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AUSTIN (AP) – Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a prohibition on cities and towns imposing local ordinances preventing fracking and other potentially environmentally harmful oil and natural gas activities.

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The much-watched measure sailed through the GOP-controlled state Legislature after voters in Denton, a university town near Dallas, banned hydraulic fracturing locally in November.

Backed by oil and gas concerns, the new law limits not only the Denton ban but other actions communities could take limiting energy industry activities.

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Abbott said Monday he was protecting private property rights from the “heavy hand of local regulation.”

He saw no contradiction in new state regulations superseding local voters’ will saying, “I believe that individuals have a much better idea how to run their own lives than do a bunch of government officials.”

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