Technicality Delays Vote on Bill Banning Local Fracking Bans

A floor technicality has temporarily derailed a bill seeking to overturn a highly-publicized local ban on hydraulic fracturing approved by Denton voters while ensuring that other communities don't follow suit.

San Angelo Republican Rep. Drew Darby's plan had been set for likely House approval Tuesday, but Democrats raised technical objections on another measure, and Darby's bill was suspended for the same reason.

It will almost certainly return to the House floor; experts expect as soon as Friday.

Darby's is one of 11 state proposals seeking to limit local restrictions on oil and gas exploration after Denton voters in November banned fracking there.

Proponents argue the bills will protect mineral rights owners and the private drilling industry.

However the bill has sparked backlash from fracking opponents in Denton and throughout the state who have been holding demonstrations at the capitol and launching a social media campaign using the hashtags #StopHB40 and #StandByDenton.

Adam Briggle, President of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group said they are most concerned about the attempt to overrule local authority when it comes to the safety of residents.

Denton's ban on hydraulic fracturing formed after residents raised concerns about drilling operations being closer to homes then city code allowed in the Vintage Neighborhood. After a heavily contested race the citizens voted about 59-41 to ban the drilling method.

The ban has already been challenged by two lawsuits still pending in the court system.

City leaders have vowed to stand-by the voters' decision and to continue working out their code regarding gas drilling. The Denton City Council was scheduled to meet Tuesday night for a special public hearing on that topic and to discuss extending a moratorium on all gas drilling that went into effect last May.

Darby softened his original bill to allow local ordinances regulating things like noise associated with oil and gas activity, but it nonetheless bans fracking bans.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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