Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 8:18 pm
The Department of the Interior has unveiled new regulations on hydraulic fracturing operations that take place on federal lands, requiring companies using the drilling technique to ensure wells are safe and to disclose chemicals used in the process.
The rules change follows a more than three-year review process and will affect the 90 percent of oil and gas wells on federal lands that now use so-called fracking to extract oil and gas.
As legislation written to prevent counties and municipalities from banning hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities advances through the Oklahoma House and Senate, some city leaders and their advocates say the measures go too far and could have unintended consequences.
‘MESS IN TEXAS’
Oklahoma lawmakers have filed at least eight bills that would prohibit municipal or county bans — or effective bans — on oil and gas drilling, production and related activities like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The legislation differs in the details, but the motivation is the same.
“A fracking ban is a drilling ban,” House Speaker Jeff Hickman said on the House floor during the March 16 session.
Despite long-held suspicions that the state’s earthquake surge was linked to oil and gas activity, the Oklahoma Geological Survey stayed silent amid pressure from oil company executives, EnergyWire reports.
When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a statewide ban on fracking in 2014, Oklahoma Rep. Casey Murdock took notice. After voters in the city of Denton, Texas — just 40 miles south of the Oklahoma state line — approved a fracking ban in the Nov. 4 election, the Republican representative from Felt took action.
“There is your anti-oil group,” the freshman lawmaker says. “We have activists outside the state that have come in and they’re pushing in these college cities.”
Murdock’s measure, House Bill 1395, is one of at least eight “local control” bills under consideration by the 2015 Legislature. The bills differ in the details, but they all limit, in some way, the power municipalities have to regulate oil and gas drilling or related activities, like fracking.
About 60 demonstrators gathered in front of the Norman City Hall Wednesday evening before the city council’s oversight committee met to discuss changes to the Norman’s oil and gas drilling regulations.
A rowdy crowd of concerned residents shouted at city officials and questioned representatives of an oil company at a Thursday night meeting about a proposal to drill near Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City.
Hundreds showed up for the meeting, which was held at the Will Rogers Conservatory, a venue that was too small for the crowd. People formed a long line and waited in the rain to attend a second overflow meeting held immediately following the first meeting. Protestors gathered outside the building, chanting “Stop fracking now,” and “No more drilling.”
Driven by water worries, safety questions and quality of life concerns, residents in Oklahoma and states other the country have pushed for citywide bans on hydraulic fracturing.
Many of those efforts have proved successful, but, in the end, fracking bans might be more about lawyers than voters.
Using local referendums, residents in states like California, Colorado, New York and Ohio have successfully banned fracking. The anti-fracking fervor has even spread to Texas, the country’s No. 1 crude oil producer. On Election Day, voters in Denton approved a citywide ban on fracking.
Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 10:15 am
Residents of Denton, Texas, voted Tuesday to ban hydraulic fracturing in their city. It's the first time a city in the state — where energy is king — has voted to ban fracking. State officials have already filed lawsuits to try and overturn the ban.
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