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Blue Cities, Red States

August 22, 2016

The American Prospect, August 22, 2016

by Abby Rapoport

When Denton, Texas, passed a fracking ban in November 2014, it was national news. The story seemed out of a movie, a David-and-Goliath tale in which a scrappy band of citizens goes up against big industry and wins…

Sure enough, despite widespread local support, it only took months to make Denton’s fracking ban history. The GOP-dominated Texas state legislature, under pressure from the oil and gas industry, passed a law forbidding any locality from banning fracking…

“PREEMPTION” LAWS ARE not new, nor are they necessarily about undoing local legislation. But with some notable exceptions, past preemption laws have generally enforced what can be called “minimum preemption”: They force localities to do something where they might otherwise have done little or nothing…

Most current preemption laws, by contrast, are what one might call “maximum preemption.” These laws aren’t about setting minimums; instead, they prohibit local regulation… Many who oppose these measures blame their proliferation on the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, which has drafted “model” preemption bills for state lawmakers to use. “Pretty much anything you can think of that matters to the American family is under assault by local preemption,” says Mark Pertschuk, the director of Grassroots Change, which fights preemption laws around the country.

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