While the pros and cons of fracking are argued at the state and national levels, cities and smaller municipalities have gone ahead and banned the industry from their areas. One such municipality is Denton, Texas, which banned fracking from its city limits last November after other unsuccessful attempts to locally regulate the industry.
The ban has raised the ire of the oil and gas industry, leading to a bill at the state level that would override the Denton law and preemptively stop other Texas communities from enacting similar laws.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process for extracting natural gas and oil by injecting water and chemicals deep underground. Widely known as fracking, the process creates a number of environmental problems. The high demand for water has led to the draining of natural aquifers, and water becomes highly contaminated in the process. The rapid filling of underground disposal wells can cause earthquakes. Last month, the U.S. Geological Survey published its first assessment of these human-induced earthquakes. Then there’s the issue of groundwater contamination, as fracking activities aren’t subjected to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the state ban on fracking bans won a “sweeping victory” with “overwhelming bipartisan support” in both of Texas' legislative houses. The bill is now on its way to be signed by Governor Greg Abbott.
Supporters of fracking say the industry is a valuable source of jobs and income for the state. But critics say the bill’s swift passage just goes to show how much the gas and oil industry have been able to buy political influence in the state’s capital.
Fracking operators have already sued Denton over its ban. The new Texas bill is likely to usher in more litigation between the city and the state.