Thursday, April 23, 2015

Texas moves one step closer to banning cities from banning fracking; Denton passed ban in November

When residents in Denton, Texas, voted to ban fracking during the November 2014 election, becoming the first town in the state to do so, it inspired other Texas towns to step forward and express interest in also banning fracking. But in Texas, where oil and gas are king, lawmakers seem to be caving to industry pressure, with the state House last week passing a bill by a 122-18 to "ban any ordinance that prohibits an oil and gas operation," H. Sterling Burnett reports for The Heartland Institute. A similar bill awaits action in the Senate.

"In a concession to the Texas Municipal League, which agreed not to oppose the bill, cities would retain limited authority over oil and gas production through their power to set reasonable limits on noise, night lighting, traffic and setbacks from buildings, although restrictions on the distance of wells to homes, schools and churches would have to be 'commercially reasonable,' according to the bill," Burnett writes.

The Texas Oil and Gas Association "praised the bill, saying it would prevent cities from adopting a patchwork of local regulations that could slow down the state's drilling boom and threaten its energy-reliant economy," Mike Lee reports for EnergyWire. Texas is the nation's largest oil and gas producing state.

Other bills also will be heard that could benefit the oil and gas industry, Lee writes. That includes "bills that would make it harder for residents to request a public hearing to contest permits for industrial plants, rolling back the state's renewable energy standard and limiting local governments' ability to collect civil damages in pollution cases." (Read more)

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