Quantcast

It's Official: Texas Prohibits Local Fracking Bans

Energy

Yesterday Texas Gov. Abbott signed HB 40 into law. Written by former ExxonMobil lawyer Shannon Ratliff, the statute forces every Texas municipality wanting common sense limits on oil and gas development to demonstrate its rules are “commercially reasonable.” It effectively overturns a Denton ballot initiative banning fracking that passed last November.

“HB 40 was written by the oil and gas industry, for the oil and gas industry, to prevent voters from holding the oil and gas industry accountable for its impacts,” said Earthworks’ Texas organizer Sharon Wilson. Wilson, who played a key role in the Denton ballot initiative, continued, “It was the oil and gas industry’s contempt for impacted residents that pushed Denton voters to ban fracking in the first place. And now the oil and gas industry, through state lawmakers, has doubled down by showing every city in Texas that same contempt.”

By a 59-41 percent vote, including 70 percent of straight ticket Republican voters, the residents of Denton banned hydraulic fracturing within city limits. The ban was a last resort after more than five years of fruitlessly petitioning oil and gas companies, the city and the state for help. “By signing HB40 into law, Governor Abbott just declared that industry profits are more important than our health, our homes and our kids,” said Adam Briggle, president of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group and a leader in the Frack Free Denton effort. He continued, “The letter of Texas law now says no city can ‘effectively prevent an oil and gas operation from occurring,’ no matter the threat to families’ health and safety or damage to private property."

The City of Denton is fighting a lawsuit brought against it by the oil and gas industry over its ordinance. Until HB40, attorneys for the city felt fairly confident their ordinance would stand. The Denton Drilling Awareness Group and Earthworks have intervened in the case in support of the city. They are represented by Earthjustice, attorneys from the Natural Resources Defense Counsel and the Texas law firm Brown & Hofmeister, LLP.

“The Texas courts have upheld a long tradition of local control, so the Governor and the Legislature took matters into their own hands.  Now, they have capitulated to the greedy but powerful oil and gas industry at the expense of their own constituents’ health, well-being, and property rights,” said Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg, who is co-counsel for the citizen groups and successfully defended the town of Dryden, New York, in a similar court case. “We have been proud to represent the proponents of Denton’s ban, and we know they will regroup and fight back against this legislative over-reach.”

“The people of Denton exercised their democratic right to keep a nasty industrial process out of their community--and now big oil and their friends in high places are steamrolling them, along with everyone else in Texas,” said NRDC attorney Dan Raichel, co-counsel for the citizen’s groups. “The interests of a powerful industry should never take priority over the health and safety of American families. Texans should be able to keep dangerous activities and chemicals away from their homes, schools, and hospitals—just as hundreds of other communities across the country have already done.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Could Fracking Ruin Your Vacation?

Texas Passes Ban on Fracking Bans (Yes, You Read that Right)

Fracking Chemicals Found in Drinking Water, New Study Says

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Waterloo Bridge during the Extinction Rebellion protest in London. Martin Hearn / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Money talks. And today it had something to say about the impending global climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Sam Cooper

By Sam Cooper

Thomas Edison once said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power!"

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials

Simple swaps that cut down on kitchen trash.

Sponsored

By Kayla Robbins

Along with the bathroom, the kitchen is one of the most daunting areas to try and make zero waste.

Read More Show Less
A NOAA research vessel at a Taylor Energy production site in the Gulf of Mexico in September 2018. NOAA

The federal government is looking into the details from the longest running oil spill in U.S. history, and it's looking far worse than the oil rig owner let on, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Damage at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge from the 2016 occupation. USFWS

By Tara Lohan

When armed militants with a grudge against the federal government seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon back in the winter of 2016, I remember avoiding the news coverage. Part of me wanted to know what was happening, but each report I read — as the occupation stretched from days to weeks and the destruction grew — made me so angry it was hard to keep reading.

Read More Show Less
Computer model projection of temperature anomalies across Europe on June 27. Temperature scale in °C. Tropicaltidbits.com

A searing heat wave has begun to spread across Europe, with Germany, France and Belgium experiencing extreme temperatures that are set to continue in the coming days.

Read More Show Less
Skull morphology of hybrid "narluga" whale. Nature / Mikkel Høegh Post

In the 1980s, a Greenlandic subsistence hunter shot and killed a whale with bizarre features unlike any he had ever seen before. He knew something was unique about it, so he left its abnormally large skull on top of his toolshed where it rested until a visiting professor happened upon it a few years later.

Read More Show Less