House Bill 40, by state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, started out as a big mistake, a sop to Texas Oil and Gas Association members angered by Denton’s voter-approved ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Darby has made the bill marginally better by giving some consideration to Fort Worth and other cities that poured a lot of time and effort into comprehensive drilling ordinances their residents so deeply desired.
The bill is better, but it’s still a sop to the drilling industry and is not ready for statewide application. The House should not let it pass.
Darby has said his purpose is to provide the industry with more regulatory clarity by eliminating a “patchwork” of city ordinances.
That is a misplaced priority. The oil and gas industry in Texas is no babe in arms. It employs enough attorneys to figure out any ordinances and enough drilling experts to tap oil and gas reserves from distant drilling sites.
The people of Texas should receive first consideration. They have expressed their concerns effectively to local officials, who have crafted local ordinances.
Fort Worth, Keller and Haslet reject disposal wells. Colleyville is concerned about the contents of drilling fluids. Grapevine and Flower Mound want advance notice of fracturing. Southlake prohibits explosives, and Westlake requires a 1,000-foot drilling setback.
The House should not let HB40 steamroll these valid local concerns.