Yesterday, both houses of the Texas legislature voted to ban cities from banning fracking. This bill, if signed by the Texas governor, would prevent communities from exercising their right to determine the health and welfare of their citizens who want nothing to do with fracking in their areas nor the earthquakes that appear to be related to it. This ban on bans pits communities against the powerful oil and gas lobby, as well as against the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.
Other states are also considering similar bans. Marketplace′s Kai Ryssdal and Scott Trang discuss Texas’s ban and other states similar bills.
“The bill would provide what’s called state preemption and that is state law here. (It) would trump anything that local jurisdictions, cities and towns pass,” says Trang.
“Oil and gas companies donated $5.5 million to the campaigns of legislators in the last elections, and clearly they got their money’s worth,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger in a statement opposing the bill’s passage.
A similar bill in Oklahoma passed one chamber. “The sponsor of that bill said he wants to ‘get ahead of what we’re seeing in other states,’” reports Trang.
“Oil and gas is very valuable for the state for job development, but we have to find a way to coexist with municipal subdivisions,” said Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, after the vote. Fraser carried the bill in the Texas Senate.
According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, cities would be barred from enacting ordinances that effectively ban oil and gas production, a standard that could bring into question a 1,500-ft. drilling setback approved by the Dallas City Council in 2013. Cities would be preempted from approving new ordinances regulating underground activity.
Could this be a groundswell of state legislatures curtailing the rights of communities to protect their citizens health and well-being? Grassroots organizations such as the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund have been working for over a decade to help communities establish their Rights. Communities in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Ohio have been working with them to organize and have adopted CELDF-drafted ordinances banning fracking.
Surely municipalities have the right to determine what occurs within and nearby their area, particularly as it may very well effect its citizens. Lobbying groups, as important as some of them may be, should not have the final say-so when it comes to fracking. Greed shouldn’t be allowed to win-out over good health. Isn’t the welfare of our environment and our children a larger priority? Or at least it ought to be.
Filed under: Health concerns | Tagged: ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, ban fracking, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, community rights, Dallas Morning News, environment, fracking, health, lobbying groups, oil and gas production |