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Denton Fracking Fight; City Extends Drilling Company Agreement

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DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) - Many Denton residents are fighting back against gas wells, which they say have crept closer than anyone ever expected to their homes. The city requires nearly a quarter mile between homes and drilling sites. But there are currently some wells that are less 200 feet from homes.

Residents are frustrated and don’t want to negotiate any more with the energy companies. They want city officials to do something — and soon, too.

Debbie Ingram is one such resident. For several months now, Ingram has rarely had the opportunity to enjoy the backyard sanctuary she created. She can see emissions from a nearby gas well located over the hill behind her home. She said it affects the air quality, making it difficult to breathe.

“Sometimes I notice it sometimes I don’t. Sometimes it’s so bad that I cant even breathe,” said Ingram.

The well near Ingram’s home is one of a dozen operations in Denton, which falls under an agreement with Eagle Ridge Operating. The city sued the company in 2013, for operating too close to people’s homes. But the energy company said it had an “old permit, that allowed it to do the work.”

Residents and the company have been negotiating ever since.

Tuesday night, residents dressed in red as a sign of solidarity in their fight to end negotiations with the energy company. They crowded city council chambers and begged city leaders not to extend negotiations.

“Fracking hell — that’s what it’s like to live in Denton,” chanted the crowd.

The Denton city council voted to extend negotiations with an energy company drilling closer to homes than a city ordinance allows. The decision came despite objections from dozens of residents, who crowded the council chambers urging the city to enforce its own rule.

The decision extends a standstill agreement with Eagle Ridge Energy. The agreement has allowed Eagle Ridge to continue work on up to a dozen wells, despite some of them being closer to homes than a 1,200 foot setback Denton instituted last year. Eagle Ridge has argued that the permit it holds pre-dates the city rule. It forced the city to drop a lawsuit against the company last year.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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