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. 
Continue Reading Texas Bans Fracking Bans

New York’s highest court has determined that towns could use local zoning ordinances to ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking).  The decision, issued June 30, 2014, is an important development in the debate about how fracking activities can be effectively “regulated” at the local level.   The New York Court of Appeals determined that the ordinances banning fracking were reasonable exercises of the towns zoning authority.  According to the Court of Appeals:  [the towns] engaged in a reasonable exercise of their zoning authority . . . when they adopted local laws clarifying that oil and gas extraction and production were not permissible uses in any zoning districts.”
Continue Reading New York Court Upholds Local Zoning Ordinances Banning Fracking

Black lung disease is not a relic of the past.  A study released last month in the American Thoracic Society Journal shows a resurgence of the disease.  Using data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the researchers found an eightfold increase in the past 15 years and the highest recorded levels since the federal government began regulating coal dust more than 40 years ago.

The prevalence of progressive massive fibrosis in the lungs of the coal workers studied was at the highest level since the early 1970s.
Continue Reading Incidence of Black Lung Disease Reaches a 40-Year High