Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a bill into effect that prohibits all fracking bans throughout the state, despite the laws that may currently exist in over 300 Texas communities. While he claims that his intentions were to protect private property rights, critics of the new law believe the exact opposite.
Governor Abbott pointed out that Texas as a whole believes in less regulation. Because the oil and gas industry is already heavily regulated, he wants to avoid additional intrusions on private property rights at the local level, hence the bill.
Environmentalists are shocked at the Governor's decision. The new law effectively restricts city laws that ban oil and gas production or regulate underground activity. As a representative of the cities, the Texas Municipal League was in favor of no new state restrictions but said that provisions were added to the bill which addressed their concerns.
Critics Resist the Governmental Authority
Many throughout the state have voiced their opposition to the bill. They believe that while Governor Abbott is against the federal government's attempts to encroach on state authority, this is exactly what he is doing to local communities.
Governor Abbott refuted this criticism by saying that measures are being taken to ensure that those at the local level will not be violating individual liberties or rights.
Attorney Mason Herring expressed concern over the new law, saying, "I believe in democracy and when the majority of a community passes a law, it should be enforced by the executive. What Abbott has done is subvert democracy in favor of his corporate donors. He's set a dangerous precedent for special interests groups having selective executive orders passed that overrides the citizen's vote all in the name of "doing what's right" for those very citizens."
Still others believe that Governor Abbott's decision to sign the bill has removed power from the local governments. According to one individual, state regulation isn't effective and needs to be improved. Another called the Governor's decision a "power grab."
Attorney Herring summed it up quite succinctly: "The democratic process that we have in American and especially in Texas lets those citizens decide what they believe is right for them. Sadly, Governor Abbott believes that he knows better."