Oklahoma House Advances Anti-Frack Ban Bill

  • Joe Wertz
Drilling rig near northwest Oklahoma City.

katsrcool / Flickr

Drilling rig near northwest Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma House on Wednesday voted 64-32 in approving legislation that would prevent officials in towns, cities and counties from banning oil and gas drilling and related production.

Senate Bill 809 now returns to the Senate for consideration. The measure, authored by Senate Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, is one of several bills lawmakers proposed during the 2015 legislative session to limit municipal authority over the oil and gas industry.

Lawmakers say their intent is to prevent municipalities from banning — or effectively banning — hydraulic fracturing or other oil and gas activity. Local officials in Norman and Stillwater have warned the wording of SB 809 and similar legislation could limit their ability to enact ordinances and rules to protect residents.

The anti-frack ban bills have the support of the State Chamber, The Oklahoman‘s Rick Green reports:

“We’ve seen what happened in places like Denton, Texas, which enacted ordinances banning certain activities within city limits and sent the wrong message to a vital industry,” said State Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs Arnella Karges. “We understand concerns about public safety and this bill provides those protections at the local level while also ensuring that one of the state’s key economic pillars can continue to use the modern techniques that have kept Oklahoma moving forward.”

But not the Oklahoma Municipal League, executive directory Carolyn Stager tells the paper:

“Local municipal officials elected by people in the community are in the best position to make decisions affecting their specific municipalities,” she said. “The state Legislature can’t pass a cookie cutter piece of legislation that benefits every community.”