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Denton Council Votes Against Fracking Ban; Issue Goes To Voters This Fall

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DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The proposed ban on hydraulic fracking in Denton will go to voters this November after City Council members voted early Wednesday against an outright ban in a 5-2 vote that came after an eight-hour-long public hearing.

The final vote just before 3 a.m. came after council members heard from scores of people opposed to and in favor of the ban.

The ordinance would have made Denton the first city in state to ban fracking within its city limits. Fracking involves blasting a mix of water, sand and a mix of chemicals deep into underground rock formations to free oil and gas.

More than 100 people signed up for a chance to address the council.

Earlier on Tuesday, CBS 11 News spoke to one woman who worries that she’s caught in the middle. Debbie Ingram said she has spent her life outdoors. “I was either outside working on a flower bed, fishing, [or] sitting on the porch. And I’m still that way,” she said.

But last February Ingram said a new neighbor invaded her backyard haven. “When the fracking started I got downright sick. There was dust on everything. I couldn’t go for my walks because I couldn’t breathe.”

Dallas-based Eagle Ridge Energy purchased leases on an old drill site that site just 200 feet behind people’s homes.

The city sued. So did residents. The response came in May when the city council barred any new drilling — until September.

Now, a petition with more than 2,000 signatures has prompted city council to consider the outright ban on future fracking.

Jack Fleet is a mineral rights owner who worries unfounded fears on fracking could infringe on his rights. “Separating fact from fiction is a big issue,” he said. “I believe that mineral owners and royalty owners have a right to develop their property.”

With debate stretching into the night, hundreds of people are watching city leaders from ringside to see where they will fall in the vote. Denton is a city of about 120,000 residents.

During the meeting opponents to the ban warned that it would lead to costly lawsuits and millions in lost tax revenues. To date, the gas fields have produced $1 billion in mineral wealth. But far more people have expressed the opinion that environmental and health issues should outweigh any expense.

(©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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