Texas Tackles Local Fracking Bans

Texas Tackles Local Fracking Bans
Following the implementation of hundreds of city ordinances, some of which hinder hydraulic fracturing, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill that clarifies the state is in charge.

With the sweep of his pen, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into a law legislation Monday that effectively wipes out individual city rules on hydraulic fracturing.

State Rep. Drew Darby
State Rep. Drew Darby
State Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo

Roughly, one-third of Texas’ 950-plus cities have passed some measure to contain – or outright ban, in the case of Denton – fracking within their city limits. House Bill 40 by state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, designed a four-prong test to determine whether those ordinances are in line with state intent. If they fail the test, the city rule is pre-empted by the new state law. The bill passed both the House and the Senate with the bipartisan support from more than two-thirds of state lawmakers. HB 40 is the third House bill the governor has signed this year; it becomes effective immediately.

Darby told Rigzone 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.” Without the Legislature’s intervention, he said, the oil and gas industry – a mainstay of the Texas economy – is “hamstrung.” Local regulations differ widely, with some cities prohibiting wells within 150 feet of residences to others that prohibit wells within 1,500 feet of private property.

HB 40 won’t harm the Texans it’s designed to protect, he said. As such, under the new law, a city ordinance would be pre-empted by the new state law unless it:

  • regulated only aboveground activity
  • was deemed “commercially reasonable”
  • didn’t effectively prohibit an oil and operation conducted by a reasonably prudent operator
  • wasn’t otherwise pre-empted by other state or federal law

Above-ground issues of traffic and noise generated from hydraulic fracturing will remain in the jurisdiction of local authorities. The courts would likely clear up any questions on “reasonable” and “prudent.”

Texas Tackles Local Fracking Bans
Texas Cities with Local Rules to Regulate O&G Drilling [more than 300]


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


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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
Ken Ruddy | May. 26, 2015
If a group of people are against oil and gas development on their land, they have already simple option: Do not lease your land! To the person who referenced clean drinking water, the largest city in the state gets its water from a lake, where boating is allowed, and those boats run on gasoline!

Kurt | May. 20, 2015
Well Mike, I do like clean drinking water however our society has accepted $1-$3 per bottle for that, which I find absurd anyway. Oh yea those plastic bottles that hold that purified drinking water, made basically out of petroleum a necessary evil these days are available thanks to the ability to get oil out of the ground. This has nothing to do with the Governor or oil companies lining their pockets. It is ridiculous for every city in Texas to have different laws regarding oil exploration and production. We need oil period. Of course we should avoid harm and damage to people, the environment and assets as we obtain it. I havent read and dont fully understand this recent bill but I think its in the best interest of Texas and Texans! Good day, Kurt

Jane | May. 20, 2015
This is ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous. Voters should be able to determine what goes on in their own backyards. Texas cares about money far more than its own people.

Mike | May. 19, 2015
Move to California and make sure its on a bike...

Mike | May. 19, 2015
This is a disgusting over-reach of power by the oil companies and the governor who is on their payroll. They are all patting each other on the back as they take their millions to the bank. Meanwhile its the people and state of Texas who will suffer. I hope yall dont like clean drinking water.


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