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Lawsuits Start After Denton Fracking Ban Passes

November 5th, 2014

Less than 24 hours after the controversial Denton fracking ban passed in Tuesday’s referendum, the state’s energy interests filed lawsuits to block its implementation. Voters in the small North Texas town voted to pass the Denton fracking ban by nearly a three-to-two margin. Soon after the measure passed, both the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association filed lawsuits to stop the city’s attempts to bar energy companies from using the controversial technique.

Denton Fracking Ban Faces Legal Challenge

The TXOGA filed a lawsuit to block Denton fracking ban in the Denton County Courthouse the morning after the referendum passed. The group says that the city ordinance oversteps its authority and intrudes on the jurisdiction of several state agencies. The most notable state agency affected by the ban is the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees the state’s oil industry. Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips, the chief legal counsel for the TXOGA, stated in his group’s lawsuit that the Denton fracking ban “second-guesses and impedes this state regulatory framework.”

City Defends Denton Fracking Ban Language

Although 59 percent of the voters approved the Denton fracking ban by a wide margin, city officials and environmental groups expected the state’s powerful oil interests to challenge its passage almost immediately. City officials believe that the measure will hold up in court and defended the legal language of the Denton fracking ban proposal. Lawyers for environmental activist groups met with city attorneys to review the language of the Denton fracking ban to ensure that it would stand up to legal scrutiny.

Denton Fracking Ban Sets Precedent

The Denton fracking ban is the first of its kind in Texas. The ban would prohibit the practice of using high-pressure fluids, which contain water, sand and toxic chemicals, to reach previously inaccessible deposits of petroleum and natural gas. The town sits in the heart of the Barnett Shale, one of the largest deposits of natural gas in the country. Terry Welch, an attorney from nearby Richardson, told a local newspaper that the Denton fracking ban is “very unique” and “cutting edge”. He also stated his belief that “the city has a defensible position”, despite the lack of state case law backing the ban.

Denton Fracking Ban Splits Town

Opponents of the Denton fracking ban have stated that the measure would eliminate many of the area’s oilfield jobs and cause severe damage to the city’s economy. Proponents of the referendum have cited numerous reports of environmental damage, noise pollution and heavy truck traffic that have resulted from the increased fracking activity. The passage of Denton fracking ban marks a distinct change in attitude among oil patch residents, many of whom see the ban as a stance on property rights rather than an issue of environmental quality.

Sources: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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