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Voters To Determine Fate Of Fracking Ban

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) - The Denton City Council has decided voter will determine the fate of a controversial ban on hydraulic fracturing in the city. Anti-fracking forces said they assumed all along an election was likely and petroleum industry officials caution lawsuits may loom around the corner.

Local residents talked about the inaction Wednesday. “I’m really honestly disappointed, I feel like it doesn’t need to go to a vote,” said Matthew Schipper, who thinks the council should have issued the ban on its own. “It’s pretty clear that (current) regulation hasn’t worked, the rules aren’t being followed and someone has to put their foot down.”

Nancy Trout also dislikes the idea of fracking. “There’s a lot of people against it. I’m against it because I think they’re ruining the land.”

Speakers at the meeting ran 4-to-1 in favor of a ban. But drilling industry representatives denied there’s reason to worry.

Looking ahead to the election, Jack Fleet of the Mineral and Royalty owners groups, told CBS 11 News his group will take the issue to voters in speeches and meetings. “David and Goliath!” is how Ed Soph measures the election challenge. He said anti-fracking forces already have a detailed ground plan. “Sure, we’re going to be outspent probably, we’re going to be out-blitzed media-wise, but that in no way negates the grassroots effort of a good campaign.”

One of the more poignant council meeting moments came in the wee hours of the morning from one of the youngest participants. “Hello, my name is Riley Briggs,” he told the assembly.”I am 11-years-old. I have lived in Denton my entire life and I am proud of that… and it is quite past my bedtime.”

Briggs said his concern about fracking started after both he and his brother fell ill. He blames a nearby well. “I don’t want it to be, like, a bad poisoned water and everything. If I have kids I want them to grow up in a safe, healthy world. Not one that’s driven by money,” said Briggs.

With the delay until November it now appears Alpine, not Denton, could be the first city in Texas to enact a ban. The industry warns such bans could trigger lawsuits protecting mineral owners’ property rights, which is says are constitutionally protected.

(©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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