“Denton Fracking Bill” Sails Through House

HB 40 Gives State Power Over City Regulations
Anti-Fracking Demonstrators

Anti-Fracking Demonstrators

The Texas legislature voted Friday to move forward with House Bill 40, which strips local authorities of power to regulate oil and gas in their own cities.

Related: Fracking in Texas Cities: Who’s the Boss?

In a 122-18 vote, the the Texas House of Representatives gave its overwhelming approval to preempt city laws concerning oil and gas activity, including hydraulic fracking. The Denton Fracking Bill allows the state to eliminate local rules that are not deemed “commercially reasonable.”

After only three hours of debate, the house was able to shoot down all of the proposed amendments that attempted to add additional local control for public safety and setbacks.

The Texas Oil and Gas Association called the proposal “balanced, fair and essential to ensure that the state’s biggest job creator can continue to operate responsibly under robust and predictable regulation.”

But there are many dissenters including Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, who called the bill “a goldmine for lawyers.”

Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas told the Fort Worth Star Telegram, “This is a dangerous power grab by Big Oil to stomp out the rights of communities to protect themselves from the worst impacts of dirty drilling,”, said in a statement. “They won’t settle for just overturning the Denton ban but are taking aim at ordinances across the state that limit drilling near homes, schools and parks as well as many other health and safety standards.”

The bill still has to make its way through the Texas Senate before it goes before the Governor and becomes law. 

Read more at legis.state.tx.us

Fracking in Texas Cities: Who’s the Boss?

Legislation Will Squash Local Control

Texas drilling: Who’s in control?

When it comes to drilling oil in Texas, all cities aren’t created equally. Laws and regulations vary from town to town and what is okay in one, might be illegal in another. So, who ultimately gets to decide the rules for fracking in Texas cities?

Since the city of Denton outlawed drilling within the city limits in 2014, the debate over who has the authority to regulate the oil and gas industry has heated up. In recent weeks, the Texas legislature has introduced legislation in both houses that would remove that control from local governments and give it back to the states. 

Related: Fracking Bans in Texas?

SB 1165 and HB 40 both favor state control that would would limit a city’s ability to impose regulations on oil and gas industry activities. The “Denton Fracking Bill” (SB 1165) unanimously passed and asserts that current statutes are already so effective that additional local regulations aren’t necessary . It goes on to say that the act would further “preempt regulation of oil and gas operations by municipalities and other political subdivisions.”

Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, said that “The threat to Texas and our state’s biggest economic driver, oil and gas, is real and it’s urgent,” Staples said in his remarks. “This is the very sector that is building our schools, paving our roads and funding our universities. Please make no mistake, this attack is growing and it must be fixed. We join Texans who support local control, but local control does not mean out-of-control.”

Reactions have been swift from local officials, environmental groups and private citizens. The Texas Municipal League was one agency that blasted the decision saying that if city ordinances are nullified, homeowners could be robbed of their property values overnight and would be stripped of their property rights.

Read more at legis.state.tx.us

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