local control

Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

A group responsible for managing Oklahoma's floodplains says bills moving through the Legislature that prohibit cities from regulating oil and natural gas drilling operations could prevent the state from participating in the National Flood Insurance Program.

The Tulsa World reports that the Oklahoma Floodplain Managers Association has sent a letter to lawmakers warning that the local control legislation might prevent flood insurance policies from being written and renewed.

Officials in at least two cities have publicly questioned bills filed during the 2015 legislative session that would limit the local governments’ authority to regulate oil and gas activity.

The bills’ authors say the measures are meant to prevent towns, cities and counties from banning or effectively banning oil and gas drilling and related production activities, like hydraulic fracturing. Officials in Norman and Stillwater, for their part, say the legislation is an overreach that could limit their ability to write ordinances to protect the health and safety of local residents.

Volunteers watching the polls in November 2014 in Denton, Texas, before voters approved a citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Photomancer / Flickr

As legislation written to prevent counties and municipalities from banning hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas activities advances through the Oklahoma House and Senate, some city leaders and their advocates say the measures go too far and could have unintended consequences.

'Mess In Texas'

Demonstrators outside the Norman City Hall before a city council committee met to discuss changes to oil and gas drilling rules.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A proposed amendment to legislation limiting the power local governments have to regulate oil and gas operations expands the bill’s language to prevent cities and towns from enacting rules “effectively” banning drilling, fracking and related activities.

House Bill 2178 was authored by Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, who also wrote the amendment. I’ve highlighted the proposed changes below:

Protestors outside a public meeting in Oklahoma City about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner held signs and chanted "Stop fracking now" and "No more drilling."
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Senate Energy Committee approved a bill Thursday during its first meeting of the session that would give the state authority to regulate oil and gas operations.

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said SB0809 “…preempts cities from preventing drilling operations in municipalities.”

There were no questions from committee members about the bill and it received a do pass recommendation. Sen. John Sparks, R-Norman, cast the only vote against the do pass recommendation.

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Protestors outside a public meeting in Oklahoma City about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner held signs and chanted "Stop fracking now" and "No more drilling."
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a statewide ban on fracking in 2014, Oklahoma Rep. Casey Murdock took notice.

Hundreds gathered at a public meeting in Oklahoma City to hear about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Several bills filed for the upcoming 2015 legislate session rein in the power cities and counties have to regulate drilling and oil and gas production.

The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

At least eight bills have been filed that would stop cities and counties from banning drilling operations, including proposals from top leaders in the House and Senate.

Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill Monday allowing cities and counties to restrict tobacco use at parks, libraries, golf courses, baseball fields and other properties beginning Nov. 1.

The bill by State Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Ardmore) and State Rep. Pat Ownbey (R-Ardmore) also formalizes Fallin’s executive order issued last year banning tobacco use in state-owned buildings and on state property.

Ownbey says putting the governor’s executive order into statute needed to be done, and local control is something lawmakers always talk about.