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Government/Politics

Texas House Approves Bill That Would Prohibit City Ordinances And Bans Against Fracking

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Ryan E. Poppe

Members of the Texas House approve legislation aimed at local entities, like the City of Denton, that banned oil and gas technique of hydraulic fracturing also known as fracking.  

House Energy Resources Chairman Drew Darby, a Republican from San Angelo, says his legislation still allows cities to set limits on oil and gas companies, it however would not limit where the companies could operate underground.

“Once and for all we have established a statutory framework that cities can regulate above-ground oil and gas activities. It’s never been in statute that cities could regulate reasonable setback lines for noise, traffic, safety, fire and health. This bill does that, it protects your cities,” Darby explained to House members.

That’s once the state decides whether a city’s ordinance limits the economic growth or is commercially reasonable.  This is an issue that Democratic Rep. Chris Turner knows all too well. In his hometown of Arlington, the community decided to set limits on how close these companies could operate to a home.

“I think those decisions are best left at the local level, because what works in Odessa may not be what works best in Arlington. Just like what works best in Arlington doesn’t work best for Tyler,” Turner said while explaining his position.

But Denton County Republican Rep. Ron Simmons doesn’t see it that way.

“Well in the Texas Constitution, the state government does not derive its power from the cities, in fact all the cities are a political subdivision and the only rights and authorities they have are granted in this body, that’s the way it’s always been,” Simmons said.

Following hours of debate, the House sent the bill across the hall to the Senate on a vote of 122 to 18.