Remember that whole thing about Texas being a freedom-loving, live-and-let-live state that Republicans yap so much about? As you’ll see for the umpteenth in this story, it’s all a load of hooey.
Denton voters banned fracking last month, shocking observers nationally and inspiring activists locally. On Tuesday, the ban comes into effect and other cities are taking note.
As the Associated Press reports, West Texas’ Alpine and and the Valley’s Presidio are considering bans based on drinking water concerns. In East Texas’ Reno, which experienced its first recorded earthquake in 2013, civic leaders have already reformed fracking safety procedures and are heading towards a complete ban. Hydraulic fracturing is performed by the millions of gallons there every day.
Hovering perilously over these bans’ future are, of course, Texas Republicans. First, the Railroad Commission and Land Commission have already sued to stop the Denton ban. George P. Bush, incoming head of the Land Commission, manages a fund that invests heavily in petroleum companies.
Legislature Republicans are also enraged over this threat to their campaign coffers, and could easily push forward a 2015 bill banning the bans. In Texas, counties cannot execute such zoning, but cities can – unless the Legislature expressly bans it. Last year, Texas GOP Rep. Drew Springer made national headlines with a proposed plastic bag ban-ban, which would have done the same city-squashing in corporate interests.
As opposed to Springer’s proposal, a 2015 bill on fracking bans would almost surely pass. There is simply more campaign donor stakes invested in petroleum. The bravery of cities in fracking’s line of fire standing up for themselves will have been worth it even if the Legislature quashes their land rights. And with the Railroad and Land commissions lined up in a firing squad on the issue, there would have to be a truly compelling force to keep Texas Republicans from doing what their donors hired them to do.