Texas now outlaws local municipalities from passing bans on hydraulic fracturing.  The bill proposing the law sailed through the Texas Legislature by large majorities and was signed by Governor Gregg Abbott on Monday, May 18, 2015.   The law prohibits cities and towns from imposing local ordinances preventing “fracking” activities.

The bill, known as House Bill 40 (HB40), passed the Texas Senate earlier this month by a 24 – 7 vote, after previously passing the Texas House of Representative by wide margin.  The new law stems from a fracking ban passed by the north Texas town of Denton last November.  Denton’s November 2014 ballot proposal to ban oil and gas fracking was supported by 59% of Denton voters. 

. . . the new law “ensures that Texas avoids a patchwork quilt of regulations that differ from region to region, differ from county to county or city to city.”

According the Gov. Abbott’s office, HB 40 “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 law is intended to strike “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,” according to the Governor.

The press release from the Governor’s office states that the bill “does a profound job of helping to protect private property rights here in the State of Texas, ensuring those who own their own property will not have the heavy hand of local regulation deprive them of their rights.”  According to Gov. Abbott, the new law “ensures that Texas avoids a patchwork quilt of regulations that differ from region to region, differ from county to county or city to city.”