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Fracking and Alternative Energy

Texas Governor Signs Law Preempting Local Fracking Regulations

AUSTIN, Texas — (Mealey’s) Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 18 signed a bill that preempts regulation of hydraulic fracturing at the city level, overriding the fracking ban that was passed last year in a referendum that was approved in the City of Denton.

 Property Rights

In a statement on his Twitter account, Abbott said that he signed HB 40 “to protect private property rights, preserve local control and ensure oil and gas regs are even-handed.” 

The law expressly states that regulation of oil and gas activity is a duty that “resides” with the state and “ensures that any local regulation of surface activity is commercially reasonable and does not effectively prohibit and oil and gas operation.” 

Moreover, the law declares that the laws and policies of the state have “fostered successful development of oil and gas resources in concert with the growth of healthy and economically vibrant communities” for more than 100 years.

Regulation

Moreover, the Legislature acknowledges the cooperative progress and mutual benefit that are derived from current state statutes that provide “effective and environmentally sound” regulation of oil and gas operations, the law states.

The Legislature, HB40 states, "recognizes that in order to continue this prosperity and the efficient management of a key industry in this state it is in the state's interest to explicitly confirm the authority for regulation of oil and gas activities within the state."

In a statement on the governor’s website, Abbott said that the law “does a profound job of helping to protect private property rights here in the State of Texas, ensuring those who own their own property will not have the heavy hand of local regulation deprive them of their rights.  This law ensures that Texas avoids a patchwork quilt of regulations that differ from region to region, differ from county to county or city to city.” 

‘Balance’

“HB 40 strikes a meaningful and correct balance between local control and preserving the state’s authority to ensure that regulations are even-handed and do not hamper job creation,” he said. 

The Texas Senate took up HB 40 after the Texas House of Representatives passed it on April 17 by a 122-18 vote.  The measure had been introduced in response to the referendum passed in November by the voters in Denton, who successfully achieved a ban on fracking within the city limits. 

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