On Tuesday, voters in Denton, Texas approved a ban on hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking). Fracking is a process used to extract oil and gas out of deep-rock formations by injecting high-pressure fluids into wellbores to create cracks that allow the oil and gas to flow more freely. Fracking was actually pioneered in Denton on the Barnett Shale formation and is responsible for initiating the oil and gas boom that Texas has seen over the past five years.
While fracking has brought an economic boom to the state of Texas, many local residents that live near fracking sites have become concerned over environmental hazards. Many environmental groups say that fracking pollutes the air and water and is noisy to nearby residents. Those concerns prompted Denton voters to ban the practice in its community.
Oil & Gas Industry Sues Over Fracking Ban
Just one day after Denton voters passed the first fracking ban in the state, the oil and gas industry took action. Lawsuits have been filed by the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the Texas General Land Office to prevent Denton from enacting the ordinance. The lawsuits argue that the ban is illegal under Texas law, which gives the state authority not only to regulate the oil and gas industry but to also ensure that its resources are fully exploited.
Towns in Colorado, New York, and West Virginia have passed similar bans that have been met with the same legal challenges facing the ban in Texas. Courts in those states have delivered mixed rulings regarding the argument of the state's right to ensure its resources are fully exploited. In New York, the fracking banned remained intact as the court ruled that the local municipality could supercede state law. Courts in Colorado and West Virginia have ruled against such authority of the municipality.
Fracking In Texas
Texas is the unofficial home of the nation's oil and gas industry. The state has over 6,000 oil and gas fracking wells and three of the most active shales in the country: Barnett Shale, Pearsall Shale, and Eagle Ford Shale. The Eagle Ford Shale alone produces about 1 million barrels of oil per day.
The explosion in growth of hydraulic fracturing has brought about questions not only about regulations on drilling locations, but also regarding safety in the workplace. Oil rig work has always been a dangerous occupation. Heavy machinery and flammable combustibles a daily can cause catastrophic explosions if the necessary precautions are not followed. Additionally, research has shown that workers on fracking sites are exposed to dangerous levels of silica sand. Daily exposure to toxic chemicals can lead to long-term health problems over time.
If you've been injured while working on an oil rig, contact our oil rig lawyers today for a free consultation.