“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