Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Bill Would Change How Local Governments Regulate Drilling

Update, March 20, 2013: HB 1496, which would limit how cities could restrict or ban drilling and fracking, is scheduled for a hearing in the Land and Resource Management Committee Monday, March 25 at the Capitol. You can find the agenda here.

Original Story, March 8, 2013: ”Local control” is a term you hear a lot of from Texas elected officials. That’s no surprise in a state where lawmakers extoll the benefits of limited central government and bottom-up policy making. But, according to some, there are also times when local regulations can become confusing and cumbersome. Specifically, when they pertain to regulating oil and gas drilling.

“Tarrant county is a great example,” State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) said at a recent panel discussion on the oil and gas boom hosted by StateImpact Texas. “[It has] 34 municipalities within the county each one has different laws regarding drilling. In fact, there’s one community that’s completely outlawed any drilling.”

A bill filed this legislative session by State Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, would not take away the right of local jurisdictions to pass those restrictions, but it may make them much more difficult to accomplish.

The bill, HB 1496, would change Texas eminent domain laws, to consider any regulation that restricts drilling for oil and gas as a “taking” under the law. It would mandate that local governments that pass those laws compensate property owners who are prohibited from drilling. In essence, if a city says a company can’t drill on your land, they may have to pay you what the drillers would have in royalties.

“What this bill would do was make cities have to condemn a mineral interest if they decide no drilling inside the city limits,” said Rep. Taylor.

That might raise red flags in communities that want to be able to limit drilling in as inexpensive a way possible, putting cities on the hook for vast sums of money if they wish to ban drilling or keep rigs away from places like schools and parks.

When asked, Rep. Taylor agreed that the bill would make the prospect of limiting drilling more expensive, but argued the the current system amounted to “confiscation without compensation.”



  • AdvocateFW

    Cities currently have had to allow the drilling to some extent and to regulate “reasonably ” . Cities also have the RIGHT by zoning laws and should to have regulatory control over where heavy industrial activity, which gas extration definitely is, to protect the health , life and safety and property values of property owners. What about a case be made that a non mineral owner who suffers devalued property value of his residential property might be able to sue someone whpo allows this activity too close to his property. This goes to a change needed in mineral rights beinga dominate estate. We must also understand that this dense urban drilling is relatively a new experiment in drilling. Citizens / mineral owners should understand that when they move into a city that certain activities are regulated to protect the overall quality of life of ALL of the citizens. So even mineral owners who once never thpought that mineral property would come into play like most of us may not be able to acess their mineral interest. It would just be BAD policy to take the right of cities to reasonably regulate this activity. I do not see any of these legistlators fighting for the rights of citizens against the unfair taking of mineral royalty from citizens by allowing changes in Rule 37 or forced pooling. They sit back and allow the Gas developers to rule heavy handed over mineral owners to lease at their terms and conditions or allow the Industry to confiscate those citizens mineral property without fair compensation. Seems these politicians are working for the interests of the Industry and NOT for citizens property or mineral interest. Check out the campaign contributions to these politicians fighting for this bill and your answer will be clear. Oh by the way Van Taylors community of Plano , TX is not even affected by this activity yet

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