FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Outgoing Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman has asked officials of a North Texas city to not support a grassroots petition advocating a ban on hydraulic fracturing within the city limits.

Smitherman wrote a letter Thursday to Denton Mayor Chris Watts and the City Council, calling the petition “essentially a ban on drilling” that is “extremely misguided.”

City leaders temporarily halted fracking as they consider making their city the first in the state to permanently ban the practice.

The Denton City Council plans a July 15 public hearing on the ban, and Watts says the letter will be added to the public record.

Even if the council rejects the ban, Denton voters could still vote on it in November.

Smitherman lost an attorney general’s race in March’s Republican primary.

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