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Lawmakers Consider "Messing" with Texans' Local Control

PHOTO: The House Energy Committee will hear a bill today that would make the state the sole regulator for all oil and gas activities. Photo credit: John Campbell/Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: The House Energy Committee will hear a bill today that would make the state the sole regulator for all oil and gas activities. Photo credit: John Campbell/Wikimedia Commons.
March 23, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas – Oil and gas is a big part of Texas history, economy and culture, but so is the idea of protecting the home front and local control.

A bill before the Texas House Energy Committee today would make the state the only government body that can regulate oil and gas.

Sharon Wilson, an organizer with the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project, says if the law is passed, local governments wouldn't be able to enact or enforce rules that get in the way of oil and gas operations.

"And that means in your neighborhood, and as many of us in Texas have experienced, in your back yard," she points out.

The bill comes on the heels of a citywide ban on fracking approved by voters in Denton.

State Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), the bill's sponsor and chair of the House Energy Committee, said in a recent Texas Tribune interview the state needs to fully exert its rights to regulate the industry.

Dozens of cities in Texas, large and small, have passed local ordinances that draw boundaries for oil and gas activity. If the bill becomes law, rules that require protective buffer zones between industrial facilities and homes, churches or schools could be undone.

Wilson says local governments are far better equipped to balance commercial development and residential quality of life in their own communities.

"This is just one of many bills to chip away at local control that cities have, and it is really supporting corporate interests against the ordinary person," she stresses.

Lawmakers have introduced 11 bills so far this session that would bar or discourage city and county governments from implementing any rules that limit drilling.


Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX