DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has resumed in the City of Denton. The natural gas drilling process is once again happening after a new state law made the city’s ban illegal.
Denton passed an ordinance in November that banned fracking within city limits. Earlier this month Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill prohibiting local governments from adopting oil and gas drilling bans.
While the Denton ban remains on the books, the new state law basically makes it unenforceable. So, less than a week after the bill was signed Vantage Energy notified Denton officials of its plans to begin fracking on the city’s west side. A few protesters briefly blocked the gate at the drilling site Wednesday, but moved aside and watched as the company resumed using the controversial drilling technique.
Adam Briggle is a professor at the University of North Texas and president of Frack Free Denton. He says it’s going to take more than one city to fight oil companies over fracking, and would likely involve a constitutional challenge. “I’d like to see that, but that’s gonna be a big undertaking that would require a coalition of cities. Our group would certainly be willing to help on that, but it’s not something we could do on our own.”
Fracking is a from of natural gas drilling that blasts huge volumes of water and chemicals underground to release tight deposits of oil and gas. Fracking opponents often site safety concerns about gas wells near residential areas and the number of recurring earthquakes that have happened near natural gas wells and wastewater injection sites. Briggle said, “Our ultimate goal is protecting the health and safety and community livability of Texas towns. That’s something worth fighting for, so we’re not gonna give up.”
Legislators who authored the Texas bill said they did so because the regulation of the oil and gas industry is the sole responsibility of the state and that city involvement has resulted in lower production. Briggle thinks there were other motivations. “One city, after years of trying to work with the industry, bans hydraulic fracturing and they go off the deep end in a total overreaction here. This in no way constitutes sound public policy, so the only other explanation is that this is just raw politics driven by money and greed.”
Fracking opponents and community activists say they will look into legal options to once again stop fracking within city limits.
Vantage Energy was contacted for comment on the resumed drilling but has not responded to inquiries.
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