Association fights for home rule

gas well c
A gas well drilling rig just off Westpoint Blvd. in west Fort Worth. File Photo/The Grizzly Detail Newspaper

By Cheryl Posey

Citizens were rallied to take action this past week against two bills that will come before the Energy Resource Committee today, Wednesday, April 17, and also in support of three other bills that will also come before the same committee today in Austin. 

North Central Texas Communities Alliance president and West point resident Gary Hogan has said that HB 2828 would essentially take Home Rule away from municipalities in regulating pipelines and compressor stations in the oil and gas industry.

He has stated that HB 2828 would allow the Texas Railroad Commission to supersede local comprehensive land use plans and associated zoning. This could put power into the hands of the oil and gas industry that now rests with city planners and people who are more accountable to the very citizens living in areas where drilling is taking place. Gas pad setbacks and drill sites could be changed, possibly causing more dangerous situations in urban areas such as the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

The NCTCA is also against HB 957, which will terminate the contested case hearings on environmental permitting of Industries in Texas from dirty power plants to other Industrial and Waste Landfill issues.

However, the NCTCA came out in support of three bills brought by Lon Burnam.

The NCTCA supports HB 3547, which is the Reform of Common carrier rules related to Oil and Gas Pipelines; they also support HB3599, which will give added protection in setback notification, and emission controls, and the group supports HB 3600. This Bill gives added protection of surface land use to property owners.

The following contains information about these two bills being considered today.

H.B. 3599 provides that an operator who holds a permit to drill an oil or gas well within 1,000 feet of an occupied building should be required to provide notice to all political subdivisions in which the well site is located of proposed drilling operations.

H.B. 3600 provides for rights for surface owners during the oil and gas process of drilling a well.  The surface owner should receive notice from the surveyor inspecting the property not later than the fifth business day before the date the surveying or inspecting begins.  Furthermore, the surface owner should receive written notice that the oil and gas developer plans to construct or conduct oil and gas operations not later than the 30th day before the date the construction begins.

Moreover, an oil and gas developer may not enter the land to conduct oil and gas operations until the oil and gas developer enters into a written agreement for the payment of compensation for damages with each surface owner.

Therefore, H.B. 3600 attempts to provide for some rights for surface owners during the oil and gas process to drill a well.