Texas Governor Greg Abbott committed an action on Monday, May 18, that has many Texans and environmentalists fuming. He signed House Bill 40 (HB40) into law. The bill prevents Texas city governments from banning oil and gas drilling within their communities.
Abbott believes city measures designed to ban oil drilling and fracking block private citizens from their right to do what they want on their private lands and profit.
Of course, many Texans believe Abbott is conveniently ignoring that the effects from drilling can be felt far beyond the private lands where fossil fuel recovery takes place. In Pennsylvania, researchers recently connected fracking chemicals to contamination of underground fresh water sources that were far from drill sites. City bans protect everyone from the selfishness and greed of a few landowners who are willing to allow drilling to take place on their lands even though the drilling might harm the water supplies of their neighbors.
The Governor’s action was in response specifically to a November fracking ban by the city of Denton, Texas. Like the Pennsylvania area where fracking destroyed the water supply, Denton is above an underground shale deposit. Dr. Jennifer Walden warns us that fracking processes can crack the shale allowing polluted waters to spread far beyond gas drilling sites and below the protective deep wells that are designed to prevent contamination.
The new law only permits cities to pass regulations regarding above-ground issues, such as noise and security.