Bill to Standardize Drillings Setbacks Passes Texas House

Legislation to set standards for cities that wish to regulate the oil and gas drilling within their city limits passed the Texas House Friday with more than two-thirds approval. House Bill 40 heads to the Texas Senate Monday, where, if it can sustain the momentum that’s carried it this far, could soon become law.

And that’s got some special interests groups in a tizzy.

“If some Austin lawmakers are successful, oil and gas drilling could be coming to a school, playground of daycare center near you,” wrote Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas in an opinion piece published in the McAllen Monitor.

But that’s not the case, bill author state Rep. Drew Darby, R- San Angelo, told Rigzone after the House vote Friday.

Rather, the problem is that certain municipalities have arbitrarily set standards that prohibit the oil and gas business, which Texas’ economy has long depended on. The Texas Constitution grants the state authority over above ground activity, such as drilling. Private property rights dictate what happens underground.

The bill simply clarifies the role between cities and the state “to resolve ambiguity regarding oil and gas activity without harming or taking property rights,” Darby said during the House debate. Otherwise, a mainstay of the Texas economy is “hamstrung.”


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An award-winning journalist, Deon has reported on energy, business and politics for almost 20 years. Email Deon at


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