HB 40 passes in House, threatens Denton fracking ban

HB 40 passes in House, threatens Denton fracking ban

April 17
20:21 2015

Paul Wedding / Senior Staff Writer

The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill today giving government control over gas and oil well ordinances in Texas, potentially making Denton’s ban on hydraulic fracturing null and void.

The bill was passed with ease as only 18 representatives out of 140 opposed it and now goes to the Senate to be voted upon. Filed in response to Denton’s recent ban on fracking, the bill prohibits bans on subsurface drilling and nullifies various existing city ordinances regulating oil and gas operations in Texas.

“It was pretty well expected that it would pass,” Denton city councilman John Ryan said. “It’s yet to be seen to what it will do to our ordinance.”

Ryan said city council recently extended the moratorium on fracking in response to the bill. He said the bill’s effect on Denton’s fracking ban still needs to be figured out, and he feels this bill leaves a lot to interpretation.

“There are a lot of other bills that directly say no fracking [bans]. This one doesn’t say no fracking, it says we can’t do anything about what happens underground,” Ryan said. “While the fracking action takes place underground, the machinery is on top of the ground. It may still end up as something the court has to decide.”

Adam Briggle fought for fracking regulation for years and has fought to ban fracking since January 2014 when he founded Frack Free Denton. He said he was disappointed to see the bill pass, but that the fight isn’t over.

“They’ve got to reconcile this [HB 40] with the senate version,” Briggle said. “There’s a long shot. It could get held up in the process and we could run the clock out on it.”

Briggle also said there is a lot of ambiguity and speculation on what the bill actually means for the fracking ban.

Alfredo Sanchez, one of the protestors in Denton, said he was upset by the news.

“We wanted to have a say on our planning and what kind of environment we want within our cities,” Sanchez said. “Now, we’ll have no say in where we put our wells.”

History junior Olivia Jameson said she thinks the bill is outrageous and the House of Representatives doesn’t know what is best for Denton.

“They don’t live here or have to deal with what happens here, but we do,” Jameson said.

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