WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The governor of the US State of Texas signed into law legislation that prevents local ordinances banning or regulating fracking within city limits, the Governor Greg Abbott’s office announced in a statement.
“Governor Greg Abbott today signed House Bill 40 which preempts regulation of oil and gas activity at the city level and resides that duty with the state, and ensures that any local regulation of surface activity is commercially reasonable and does not effectively prohibit an oil and gas operation,” the statement said on Monday.
In early November 2014, the residents of Denton, Texas passed by a six-to-four margin a ban on fracking within the city's limits. Denton sits on the massive Barnett Shale where the practice of hydrolytic fracturing was first perfected.
Within hours, the Texas Oil & Gas Association and the Texas General Land Office sued the city.
The bill has strong opponents in several city councils and among environmental groups worried over the chemical and noise pollution caused by fracking. Opposition to the bill has also centered on the rights of cities to rule over their jurisdictions over regulations at the state level.
Abbot said in the statement that the new law will ensure there is not a patchwork of regulations in the state.
“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,” Abbot said.
Many cities and towns in Texas have setback clauses, which require oil and gas rigs to be a certain distance from residential or community buildings. The bill signed on Monday would maintain municipal ordinances older than five years, but would prohibit recent bans as voted on in Denton.
The practice of using high-pressure injections of water, sand and toxic chemicals into underground shale formations to extract natural resources, known as fracking, is controversial. A growing body of research points to potential side effects to fracking, including methane emissions, quakes and water contamination.
The US state of New York banned fracking in December 2014 citing health and environmental concerns, while hundreds of counties and cities across the United States have implemented moratoriums or bans on the practice.