Texas House Passes HB 40 to the Detriment of Communities in Oil, Gas Fields

EDF Statement by Scott Anderson, Senior Policy Director, US Climate and Energy

April 17, 2015
Anna Geismar, (512) 512-691-3468, ageismar@edf.org

(AUSTIN — April 17, 2015) Today the Texas House of Representatives approved House Bill 40 by Drew Darby, which prevents cities from establishing effective local drilling ordinances. The bill, which passed the House without needed amendments, negatively impacts more than 300 existing local ordinances that allow orderly development of minerals and at the same time protect public health, safety and welfare from the harmful effects of oil and gas drilling.


“It’s extremely disappointing to see this bill advance. In the bill’s current form, a city ordinance must pass a litany of restrictive tests in order to be enforceable. Ordinances that are under attack include everything from commonsense requirements to keep wells a certain distance from schools or hospitals, to critical public safety measures like subsurface emergency shut-off valves needed in coastal areas in the event of hurricanes. These are basic protections that for nearly a century, cities have had the traditional authority to oversee.


“It is critically important for Texas lawmakers to understand the severe implications of HB 40, which directly threatens public safety and property, and stacks the deck in favor of industry to the disadvantage of communities where drilling is taking place. Based on the House floor debate, it appears that many of the representatives who voted for the bill don’t understand it. 


 “EDF has been fighting to limit the fallout of this bill. We will continue to petition the Texas Railroad Commission to provide additional local oversight to the extent the Legislature eliminates city authority. We will work closely with cities to ensure that their limited, remaining authority is exercised to its full capacity. And we will work with the Legislature to ensure Texas lawmakers recognize the significant problems with this bill and take the needed steps to correct them.”


  • Scott Anderson, Senior Policy Director, EDF US Climate and Energy Program



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