A bill that would prohibit local frac bans is expected to reach the Governor

The Oklahoma House approved a bill 64-32 that would prevent local governments from enacting bans on hydraulic fracturing. Senate Bill 809 would leave local governments with the power to enact “reasonable ordinances” in regards to oil and gas activities, but would prohibit any outright bans. After passing the House, the bill was returned to the Senate for further consideration, where Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman says he expects the measure to pass, after which it will be sent to the governor.

According to the bill’s text, “A municipality, county, or other political subdivision may establish reasonable ordinances, rules, and regulations concerning road use, traffic, noise, … reasonable setbacks and fencing requirements for oil and gas well site locations as are reasonably necessary … but may not effectively prohibit, drilling, fracture stimulation, completion, production, maintenance, plugging and abandonment, produced water disposal, secondary recovery operations, flow and gathering lines or pipeline infrastructure.”

Opponents said the bill would hurt Oklahomans by taking away the ability of local officials to address concerns over drilling practices within their jurisdictions, reports News OK. Backers said any concerns that couldn’t be dealt with on the local level could be brought to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which has oversight of the oil and gas industry.

Carolyn Stager, executive director of the Oklahoma Municipal League, said the bill takes away regulatory power from those best suited to make those decisions. “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.”

Arnella Karges, State Chamber vice president of government affairs, said the Senate Bill 809 provides an avenue for local governments to address health and safety concerns without sending the wrong message to an important industry through an outright frac ban. “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.”

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