Oklahoma governor signs legislation to prevent local fracturing bans

Oklahoma cities and counties would be unable to ban hydraulic fracturing or other oil and gas operations under Senate Bill 809 that Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law.

The Oklahoma law, effective in 90 days from May 29, allows municipalities or counties to enact regulations concerning road use, traffic, noise, and odors associated with oil and gas operations.

It also authorizes fencing requirements around drilling sites and setback requirements for a well from homes and businesses.

Fallin noted the law reaffirmed that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission remains Oklahoma’s primary oil and gas regulator. The three commission members are elected by voters.

“They are best equipped to make decisions about drilling and its effect on seismic activity, the environment and other sensitive issues,” Fallin said in a statement. “The alternative is to pursue a patchwork of regulations that, in some cases, could arbitrarily ban energy exploration and damage the state’s largest industry, largest employers, and largest taxpayers.”

Previously, Oklahoma municipalities had attempted to regulate fracturing using a 1935 statute that gave local governments authority over oil and gas activities within city boundaries.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a similar law for his state in May after the voters of Denton, Tex., authorized a fracturing ban. The ban stemmed from a referendum item on the November 2014 ballot (OGJ Online, May 18, 2015).

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