Denton, Texas, Rejects Fracking but State to Continue Permits

November 17, 2014

A state agency that regulates oil and gas will continue issuing permits to companies seeking to drill in Denton, despite a ban passed by residents to prevent further hydraulic fracturing in the north Texas city.

At an event sponsored by the Texas Tribune, Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick said she was disappointed in the measure’s approval and that she’ll continue issuing the permits.

“It’s my job to give permits, not Denton’s. We’re going to continue permitting up there because that’s my job,” she said.

The Nov. 4 vote in Denton, which sits atop a large natural gas reserve, made it the first Texas city to pass such a ban. The gas fields under it have produced $1 billion in mineral wealth and pumped more than $30 million into city bank accounts. Industry groups have warned the ban could hurt Denton’s economy.

Vice President Adam Briggle of the nonprofit Denton Drilling Awareness Group said the ban’s passage should have prompted the commission to “adopt a more conciliatory tone” and consider why residents are opposed to drilling.

Fracking involves blasting a mix of water, sand and chemicals deep into underground rock formations to released trapped oil and gas. Opponents of fracking say it pollutes the air and drinking water, while oil and gas organizations say it’s cleaner than other forms of energy extraction.

An industry group and the state’s General Land Office are seeking an injunction in district court to stop the ban from being enforced.

City spokeswoman Lindsey Baker said that the city has as much as $4 million in a risk fund for legal challenges.

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