In the wake of Texas’ recent “ban on banning hydraulic fracturing,” Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a similar law—SB 809—prohibiting municipal governments from regulating oil and gas drilling at the local level. The bill now heads to Governor Mary Fallin, who is expected to sign it into law.
Oklahoma enacted SB 809 prohibiting local drilling regulations—one of several similar proposals in the Oklahoma legislature—in response to local efforts to curb or ban advanced drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing after reports linking increased seismic activity in Oklahoma to the surge in drilling in the state in recent years. Excluding offshore drilling, Oklahoma is the fifth largest crude-producing state in the U.S.
Up to now, municipalities have been attempting to regulate hydraulic fracturing through a 1935 statute which gave local governments authority over oil and gas activities within municipal boundaries. SB 809, however, will supersede that 80-year-old statute and will transfer authority to regulate oil and gas drilling to the state.
State Senator Bryce Marlatt lauded the bill as a guarantee of uniform oil and gas regulation in the state. “This is an effort to make sure that we do have consistent laws across the state [and that] we’re not piecemealing regulations in every single different community,” he said.
The legislation does preserve local authority to pass reasonable zoning rules—for example, rules governing road use, noise, odors, fencing, and setbacks—but it remains to be seen how this exception might apply to broadly applicable zoning restrictions that impact drilling operations.