Texas House OKs rules to prohibit city fracking bans

Cities and counties in Texas could no longer prohibit hydraulic fracturing under an oil and gas industry-backed measure overwhelmingly approved by the Texas House.

The bill passed Friday comes just months after the city of Denton banned local fracking over environmental and safety concerns. That ordinance is now being challenged by lawsuits brought by the state and industry groups.

Republicans say the new restrictions are needed to prevent a patchwork of drilling laws from spreading across Texas. Critics say the bill is only to benefit the oil and gas industry at the expense of what local residents want.

The bill has been among the most contentious in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's first session. Abbott has stayed clear of the heated debate but has criticized local governments for what he calls overregulation.

The Senate still needs to take action on the bill before it goes to Abbott's desk.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.