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Friday October 31st 2014

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Blackwater Oil Bill Killed

A state bill aiming to entice oil companies onto state land has apparently stalled out in a senate committee this morning.

The senate’s Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee considered Sen. Greg Evers’ S.B. 1158 and decided to temporarily postpone the proposal.

“The governor had some problems with it so we just TP’d the bill,” Sen. Evers explained following the committee meeting. “It’s probably dead for this year.”

Evers’ bill—along with Rep. Clay Ford’s likeminded bill in the House—would have made drilling on state lands—specifically Blackwater River State Forest in Santa Rosa County—more attractive for oil companies. Whereas companies must currently compete in an bidding process to drill on relevant state lands, the bills would have ensured a company that invested in seismic exploration was offered the drilling rights first.

Evers said he didn’t know if he’d float the bill during the next legislative session. The senator also said his bill’s death would have implications for Rep. Ford’s twin bill.

“If one don’t pass the other don’t pass,” Evers said.

Evers said that recent revelations of his personal land holdings—about 170 acres—in Blackwater River State Forest had no impact on the bill’s scuttling.