Texas pushes forward with bill that would ban fracking bans

The Texas state House of Representatives has passed a bill that would block cities in Texas from banning the controversial oil and gas exploration method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

After an overwhelming vote of 122-18, the proposal – House Bill 40 – advanced to the state Senate, where lawmakers have not taken up the bill just yet. The bill featured 70 co-sponsors and had the support of the oil and gas industry.

The House vote comes just a few months after voters in a small Texas town called Denton approved a measure that banned fracking in the area. Denton was the first Texas city or county to ban the practice, the oil industry has already filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the prohibition.

READ MORE>>>Fracking ban goes into effect in its birthplace

On Friday, Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), who introduced the bill, said the ban on banning fracking was needed to ensure that cities didn’t implement different regulations that harm the state’s economy.

“In the absence of this bill, a statewide patchwork of oil and gas regulation is likely,” Darby said to the Houston Chronicle.

Notably, similar comments were made by the Texas Oil & Gas Association, which is also suing Denton.

“HB 40 is a welcome solution because Texas can't afford a patchwork of regulations for an industry that supports 40 percent of our economy,” the association tweeted after the vote, Reuters reported.

However, opponents say the measure would also take aim at measures passed by local communities addressing health, safety and more.

READ MORE>>>Fracking link suspected in presence of cancer-causing gas – report

“It is a carte blanche for all sorts of heavy industries associated with energy production, including disposal, transport and processing,” Texas Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Robin Schneider said to Reuters.

Additionally, supporters of the bill reached a deal with the oil and gas industry to block any amendments to the legislation – a move that angered some Democrats who want to make sure oil companies wouldn’t be allowed to drill under city buildings and parks.

“I would say to you that you would be hard press to find anybody in the City of Houston to say yes to HB 40 if the intent of HB 40 is to allow any company to go to Memorial Park ... and drill for what's underneath,” said Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) to the Chronicle.

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Comment by ThePeriledSea on June 1, 2015 at 5:15pm

Looks like its catching on Martin!

Fracking Bans Are No Longer Allowed In Oklahoma

 POSTED ON JUNE 1, 2015 AT 12:02 PM

Read more @  ClimateProgress

Oklahoma’s towns and cities are no longer allowed to ban fracking under a bill signed into law on Friday by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

The new law prohibits localities from choosing whether or not to have oil and gas operations within their jurisdictions, with exceptions for “reasonable” restrictions like noise and traffic issues. Other than that, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission will retain control over oil and gas drilling.

The state commission is run by three elected commissioners, all of whom are Republican. Chairman Bob Anthony is a member of the National Petroleum Council, a group that advises the U.S. Department of Energy on oil and gas industry interests. And Vice Chairman Dana Murphy is a geologist and attorney with “more than 22 years experience in the petroleum industry,” according to her bio page.

Fracking — the process of injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand, and chemicals underground to crack shale rock and release oil and gas — is prolific in Oklahoma, andFallin said the new law would be necessary to prevent a “patchwork of inconsistent municipal regulations across the state.” In addition, Fallin said, allowing cities and towns to have control over whether fracking occurs could “damage the state’s largest industry, largest employers and largest taxpayers.”

Oklahoma is the second state to ban fracking bans. Last month, Texas became the first, when Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation to prohibit cities from banning the process.

That legislation was a major blow for the city of Denton, Texas, which had already passed a local fracking ban within city limits. Denton is now considering repealing that ban in the wake of Texas’ new law.

Oklahoma’s new ban comes amid warnings from the state’s own government that a recent dramatic spike in earthquakes is linked to wastewaterinjection, a key part of oil and gas activity and particularly fracking. To dispose of the immense amount of water used during fracking, companies inject it underground. Scientists increasingly believe the injections are disrupting faults and triggering quakes.

In saying oil and gas was likely responsible for the state’s earthquake epidemic, the state launched a website in April detailing why earthquakes are happening and what the state is doing to stop them. Letting localities ban fracking, however, is not one of the examples.

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