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The bill — which passed unanimously in the Senate and overwhelmingly in the House and then was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry — requires gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use in the drilling process.
Environmental groups were also on board with this legislation. Luke Metzger, director of the Austin-based Environment Texas, called the legislation “the first step” toward addressing public concerns about the drilling.
“The Legislature needs to get more involved,” Metzger said Wednesday. “The Railroad Commission is in charge of the implementation and enforcement of the rules, but they have a poor record because they deal with oil and gas companies that contribute money to their (re-election) campaigns.”
And fracking is a major issue that needs to be carefully dealt with for a good number of reasons, Metzger explained.
Fracking has raised concerns of water and air contamination because of the chemicals used in the process.
For his part, Metzger said he's hopeful in next year’s session the Legislature will continue with follow-up fracking legislation.
“I hope we can continue to build on what they passed in the last session, like the big amount of water that is wasted in the midst of this drought,” Metzger said. In addition, the more the issue is in the news, the more the public will learn about it.
Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, said considering the many critical issues the Legislature will tackle in next year’s session — mainly another massive revenue shortfall of as much as $15 billion and the currently pending school funding lawsuit — it is hard to predict what more can be done about fracking.
Price sits on the House Natural Resources Committee and is also a member of the Sunset Advisory Commission, the joint legislative panel that evaluates the performance of all government agencies and is currently reviewing the Railroad Commission.
But the kind of requirements HB 3328 authorized are likely to continue because ultimately the lawmakers oversee all state agencies, including the Railroad Commission, he said.
“The disclosure bill was a big step,” Price said. “I don’t know what else may be on the horizon.”