Saturday, April 18, 2015

Texas Lawmakers Say Frackers Can Drill In Homeowners' Backyards

UPDATED May 18, 2015

A Texas House bill supported by energy companies that prevents cities and counties from regulating hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and other oil and gas drilling on their land was passed by the House legislators on Friday.

House Bill 40 by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) passed on a 122-18 bipartisan House vote. The bill is widely seen as a response to a fracking ban passed by Denton voters last November. The Texas Oil and Gas Association, representing major energy companies, has sued Denton and has been lobbying lawmakers. Denton sits on a gas-rich shale formation that stretches across 24 counties in north Texas.

The Senate approved the bill and Gov. Abbott signed the bill into law, overturning Denton’s fracking ban, Dallas’ drilling ordinance, and nullifies city ordinances around the state.

Denton and other cities around Texas have been trying to literally keep fracking gas drillers out of homeowners' backyards and public school playgrounds.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process used in nine out of 10 natural gas wells in the United States, where millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped underground to break apart the rock and release the gas. Scientists are worried that the chemicals used in fracturing may pose a threat either to underground aquifers or when waste fluids seep into lakes and public water supplies.

The rise in earthquakes as a result of fracking poses a massive problem for the oil and gas industry. The primary hydraulic fracturing drilling process does not foster earthquakes. Rather, the injection of waste water back into the ground that contributes to fault lines “slipping,” which results in heightened seismic activity.

Oklahoma has become the earthquake capital of the United States, surpassing even tremor-prone California. Oklahoma has averaged less than two earthquakes of a magnitude 3.0 or greater over the last 30 years. Shockingly, however, that rate has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2013, the state experienced 585 earthquakes with at least a 3.0 magnitude. If the current rate of earthquakes continues, Oklahoma could have 875 by the end of 2015.


State Preempts Municipal Control Over Gas Drilling

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