HOUSTON May 18 (Reuters) - Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday signed a bill into law that prohibits cities and towns from banning an oil drilling practice known as hydraulic fracking, giving the state sole authority over oil and gas regulation.
Lawmakers in Texas, a state that is home to the two of the most productive U.S. shale oil fields, have been under pressure to halt an anti-fracking movement since November, when voters in the town of Denton voted to ban the oil and gas extraction technique.
"This law ensures that Texas avoids a patchwork quilt of regulations that differ from region to region, differ from county to county or city to city," Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement.
In fracking, a mixture of pressurized water, sand and chemicals is directed at rock to unlock oil and natural gas. Operators say it is safe because, but many environmental groups oppose the practice, calling it wasteful, polluting, dirty and noisy.
Fracking was pioneered at the Barnett shale natural gas formation in north Texas where Denton is located. Most of the crude output in Texas comes from fracked wells in the Eagle Ford and Permian fields to the south and west. (Reporting by Anna Driver and Terry Wade; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)