March 23, Austin — Today Earthworks’ Texas Organizer Sharon Wilson testified at the Texas House Energy Resources Committee public hearing on HB40 and HB539. The bills are part of a legislative suite introduced by oil and gas industry supporters in response to Denton’s successful ballot initiative to ban fracking.
HB40 would eliminate Texas municipalities’ authority to regulate all oil and gas production, replacing it with the industry-friendly state Railroad Commission. It would also vacate existing regulations except those found to be “commercially reasonable”.
“When it comes to oil and gas development, HB40 would make the Railroad Commission, the same people that didn’t give a damn about city concerns before Denton banned fracking, the city council of every city in Texas,” said Sharon Wilson in her testimony before the House Energy Resources Committee. She continued, “Many cities around Texas don’t agree with what the Railroad Commission thinks is ‘reasonable’. And any bill that forces a community to accept what it doesn’t want is the very definition of big government. The authors of this bill should be ashamed.”
Assuming HB40 doesn’t become law, HB539 would force any Texas municipality with oil and gas regulations to pay the state to compensate for the regulation’s impact on state coffers.
“Wells in the Eagle Ford flared 34 billion cubic feet of gas in 2013. That is, oil and gas companies in the Eagle Ford wasted 34 billion cubic feet of gas in 2013. How much did the state charge these companies for this wasted gas? Zero. HB539 isn’t about compensating the state for lost production, it’s a political power grab. It’s the oil and gas industry, through the state legislature, trying to show cities who actually runs this state. If HB539 passes, it’ll show that ordinary Texans aren’t in charge, that’s for sure.”