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Plano Lawmaker Authors Bill to Strip Cities of Right To Regulate Oil and Gas Drilling

Representative Van Taylor of Plano
Representative Van Taylor of Plano

State Representative Van Taylor, a real-estate investment banker from Plano, has introduced legislation that would settle, once and for all, who gets the last word on drilling under private property: That would be the Railroad Commission of Texas.

The bill, filed Tuesday, would strip from Texas municipalities the ability to regulate drilling within their borders in any meaningful way. It's the latest iteration of an idea that's cropped up in the Texas House before, at the top of an industry wishlist. As fracking pushed the natural gas boom out of the pastures and into the 'burbs, producers often found themselves running afoul of local ordinances that diluted the density with which they could drill up leased acreage. In Southlake, XTO simply moved on. In Dallas, well, it's complicated.

So, what would become of Southlake's code-mandated 1,000-foot buffers between a house and a well pad? If it has the effect of preventing someone from drilling, it gets trumped. Only rules pertaining to "visual aesthetics," "noise abatement" and "hours of operation" would be left to municipal discretion. This legislation won't help Trinity East because the city of Dallas owns the floodplain the company intends to frack.

The campaign war chest of Taylor, the bill's author, has been the primary beneficiary of Denbury Resources, an oil and gas company that lately has been tapping mature oil fields. He has received more donations from the company than any other state rep. Sworn into office in 2010, he's a relative neophyte, but there are also worse horses for an oil company to hitch its wagons to.

Taylor is a young guy. He's got a Harvard MBA. And he's also apparently kind of a bad-ass -- he served with the Force Recon Marines during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In short, he's the kind of guy who, with a little guidance and grooming, could have a future.

Trouble with this bill is, his fellow lawmakers are sure to hear from the cities, many of which aren't keen on letting the Railroad Commission call the shots in their own backyards.

H/T Texas Sharon


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