Texas town bans fracking, but lawsuit already filed

Denton, Texas, became the first city in the United States to ban hydraulic fracturing. The measure in the north Texas town was approved by 58.64 percent of voters Tuesday, at last count. But the measure already is being challenged: As The Dallas Morning News reported, the Texas Oil and Gas Association filed for an injunction in state court in Denton on Wednesday, seeking to block the ban from going into effect.

“TXOGA believes that the courts of this State should give a prompt and authoritative answer on whether Denton voters had the authority under state law to enact a total ban on hydraulic fracturing within the city limits,” attorney Thomas R. Phillips, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas said in a statement. “A ban on hydraulic fracturing is inconsistent with state law and therefore violates the Texas Constitution.”

As the Texas Tribune noted, some state lawmakers in Texas also have vowed to fight to overturn the ban at the Legislature.

A city of 123,000 with more than 270 gas wells scattered among its neighborhoods, Denton is one of several cities that have tried to ban fracking, including communities in New York and Colorado. But the prospect of such a ban in Texas — a state built on oil and gas — put Denton in a bright spotlight, rankling industry leaders and the state’s Republican leadership.

That Colorado ban was put in place by voters in the city of Longmont in 2012, but a judge overturned it earlier this July, saying it conflicted with the state’s interests. In overturning the ban, Boulder County District Court Judge D.D. Mallard said:

“While the court appreciates the Longmont citizens’ sincerely held beliefs about risks to their health and safety, the court does not find this is sufficient to completely devalue the state’s interest,” Mallard wrote.

(Photo: An oil well in central Colorado. Credit: Shutterstock)

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