Texas Moves to Challenge Denton Fracking Ban

A State agency moved quickly the day after election day in Texas following the voter-approved fracking ban in the north Texas city of Denton and filed court action to stop implementation of the ban. The General Land Office went to District Court seeking an injunction.

Opponents of the ban fear there could be a domino effect in oil and gas rich Texas. But they also contend the city of Denton didn’t have the power to ban further hydraulic fracturing.

“We believe the city of Denton lacks authority to ban the only commercially viable method of producing oil and gas in their locality,” said Tom Phillips, a former chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court who now is an attorney for the Texas Oil and Gas Association. He says the courts have to give an authoritative answer as quickly as possible.

The city of Denton sits atop a natural gas reserve but environmentalists and some residents who initiated a petition drive for the city vote contend the fracking is endangering and polluting their drinking water.

The Denton gas fields have produced nearly $1 billion as well as $30 million for the city of Denton.

David Porter, a commissioner on the Texas Railroad Commission fears the ban will lead other cities in the state to take the same controversial step. So does Texas Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush, the founding partner of an energy and infrastructure consultancy. In his campaign, he promoted the benefits of hydraulic fracturing.

But environmentalists see the ban approval as a positive note for them.

“What happened in Denton shows people that it can be done,” said Lori Glover, a spokesman for the Sierra Club in an interview with the Associated Press. She helps lead the Sierra Club in Big Bend and went before the Alpine City Council in southwest Texas last summer, making a pitch to adopt a fracking ban. She believes if the Denton ban is upheld, it will make it easier to pass one in Alpine.

Election day also saw fracking bans approved by voters in Athens, Ohio and San Benito counties in California.