Texas Senate Rushes to Judgment on Bill that Would Negatively Impact Public Health and Safety

EDF Statement from Scott Anderson, Senior Policy Director

March 27, 2015
Anna Geismar, (512) 627-2518, ageismar@edf.org

(AUSTIN — March 27, 2015) This week, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development approved Senate Bill 1165 by Senator Troy Fraser, which, like House Bill 40 proposed by Representative Drew Darby, would expressly preempt nearly all local regulation of oil and gas operations. The only exceptions would be a limited number of rules that would only be enforceable if a city could prove that the rules only address surface activities, are “commercially reasonable” and do not effectively prohibit an oil and gas operation, among other limitations. These bills, among others presented in both Houses, are being portrayed by many as a response to a recent hydraulic fracturing ban in the City of Denton, but the bills are much more than that – they materially reduce the authority of cities to protect public health, safety and welfare and give industry new legal tools with which to challenge such regulation in court.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Senate Committee rashly approved SB 1165 with little consideration, no genuine debate, and no amendments. In their current form, these bills would gut hundreds of important local ordinances that protect public health, safety, and property from oil and gas development, some of which have been in effect since the 1930s. The legislation is unbalanced and stacks the deck in favor of oil and gas companies, to the disadvantage of cities that need to be able to enact and defend important safety and environmental protections.

“Local governments have historically adopted measures to defend a range of legitimate interests – from damage to local public property to protecting human lives – and EDF intends to work diligently to ensure that those rights are not lost with the passage of such sweeping legislative language.” 

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

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