Both chambers of the Texas state legislature have passed a measure that would outlaw Texas towns from passing their own bans against hydraulic fracturing (fracking), reported CBS News.
Within the last month, the bill sailed easily through the Texas House of Representatives and passed through the state senate yesterday. The bill will likely be signed into law once it reaches Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) desk. The push to ban fracking bans started last year when the town of Denton, TX banned fracking operations within city limits.
After the ban passed in November, Texas lawmakers who are in bed with the energy industry and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been working on a way to dissolve Denton’s ban. The Texas Oil and Gas Association (TOGA) and the General Land Office are challenging the Denton ban in court.
If these pro-fracking groups succeed in passing their bill, “Denton’s fracking ban [will be] impossible to enforce,” reported The Dallas Morning News.
To increase the appeal of such an aggressive bill, the pro-fracking bill says locales can regulate the aboveground aspects of fracking: noise, traffic, and lighting. However, communities cannot place any regulation on drilling or other belowground operations. Essentially, because belowground and aboveground are dependent upon each other, locales will have virtually no regulatory authority.
“The burden is laid upon the cities, and frankly we’re handing the keys to the oil and gas industry to decide what’s commercially reasonable,” said Rita Beving of the Alliance for Clean Texas.
According to a TOGA statement, the pro-fracking ban “enjoys widespread support because legislation provides cities with authority to reasonably regulate surface level oil and gas activities.” This is a misleading statement because the provisions give the state most of the regulatory authority.
Luke Metzger of Environment Texas was “outraged by this assault on local control and property rights.” Metzger also said “Clearly, Big Oil got its money’s worth this legislative session.”