DENTON (CBS 11 NEWS) – A citizen-led move to ban hydraulic fracturing in Denton, drew almost as many signatures of support as there were voters in the last municipal election. If successful, experts said it could trigger additional movements in Texas, as well as legal challenges.

“Frack Free Denton” collected nearly 2000 signatures on its proposed ordinance to ban the technique used to drill for natural gas. If the city council doesn’t approve the measure within the next 60 days, it will go to voters in November.

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“What I hope happens is this opens up a horizon for people to say we can control what happens in our community and we can take charge in that,” said group board member Adam Briggle.

Mark Oliver, a Fort Worth attorney who has worked on oil and gas cases for operators and landowners said the effort is unique in that it is citizen-led. However, he expected it would also draw legal challenges because of the value of what could be banned.

“By doing that they’re protecting some folks but they’re greatly harming other people, because the mineral interests are valuable,” he said.

Eagleridge Energy, a company that has been at odds with the city over its operations in some neighborhoods released a statement Wednesday, responding to the city councils decision to put a moratorium on drilling, until September:

“Eagleridge Energy, while surprised by the Denton City Council’s decision to initiate a moratorium on new gas wells, remains supportive of the city’s efforts to assure the health and safety of the citizens of Denton.  Eagleridge looks forward to continuing to work with the City to develop a clearer, more predictable and useful gas well ordinance. The company is also committed to being environmentally responsible and points to the fact that it has been in compliance with state and local government standards relating to safe drilling, fracing and ongoing operations and that it has no violations.”

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