Texas House Votes to Ban Banning Fracking

A mailer against the Denton fracking ban.
A mailer against the Denton fracking ban.

So much for local control.

As was inevitable following the Denton ballot initiative that banned fracking in the city's limits, the Texas House of Representatives moved Friday to severely restrict the limits municipalities can place on hydraulic fracturing within their borders.

"Municipal regulations have begun to erode the state's pre-eminent role to regulate oil and gas development," Representative Drew Darby, the bill's author, said Friday before his bill HB40, passed by 122-18 vote.

Dallas leaders, especially City Council member Philip Kingston, have been vehemently against HB40. Kingston testified against the bill in committee and later held a press conference to assert how dangerous taking away local control of fracking regulations would be.

"When we rely on [Dallas Fire Rescue], our public safety professionals, to protect us, then we get excellent fire safety and emergency response from them," Kingston said last week. "When we rely on the state of Texas, the state government of Texas to provide for local health and safety, we get the West explosion," he said.

Assuming it passes the Senate -- which is now far more conservative than the house -- the fracking ban ban would only allow local regulation of above ground activities like noise, traffic and limited setbacks from schools and homes for drilling sites.

Texas environmental activists expressed outrage after the vote.

"This is a dangerous power grab by Big Oil to stomp out the rights of communities to protect themselves from the worst impacts of dirty drilling," Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas said. "They won't settle for just overturning the Denton ban but are taking aim at ordinances across the state that limit drilling near homes, schools and parks as well as many other health and safety standards."

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