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Texas Fracking Lawsuit Moved to Denton County

February 24th, 2015

A Travis County judge approved a request to move a Texas fracking lawsuit to Denton County. The Texas fracking lawsuit from the state’s General Land Office challenges a fracking ban passed by Denton voters this past November. The agency’s lawsuit claims that the city’s ban on fracking activities is unconstitutional and exceeds the municipality’s authority. Another suit against the city, this one filed by the state’s Oil and Gas Association, were filed shortly after the referendum passed.

Fracking Ban Prompts Texas Fracking Lawsuits

The dual Texas fracking lawsuits stem from a ban placed on fracking activities within the city limits. Denton residents had made numerous complaints about noise, traffic and chemical fumes arising from the growth of fracking activities in the North Texas Barnett Shale region. City officials enacted a moratorium on fracking activities prior to putting the measure on the November ballot. Despite heavy lobbying from the state’s powerful oil and gas industry, the measure passed. The next day, both the General Land Office and the Oil and Gas Association filed Texas fracking lawsuits against the city.

Drilling Process Spurs Texas Fracking Lawsuit

Despite the threat of the Texas fracking lawsuit, other cities across the country have followed suit in enacting their own fracking bans. These cities cite the dangers involved in the fracking process as reasons to either enact moratoriums or to launch ballot measures. The process involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressures into underground oil and gas reserves. The high-pressure fluids break up the rock surrounding the reserves, allowing for easier access.

City Wants Texas Fracking Lawsuit Heard At Home

Attorneys representing the city of Denton welcomed District Judge Tim Sulak’s decision to move the Texas fracking lawsuits to Denton County. The city’s attorneys allege that the fracking bans were a reaction to “conditions that are subversive of public order” and were fully within the authority granted by the city charter. In their statement, the attorneys also said that the Texas fracking lawsuit “is back where it needs to be” and will be heard where “the citizens who suffer the consequences” of the ban can follow the proceedings.

Texas Fracking Lawsuit May Encourage Legislation

As Judge Sulak was releasing his opinion on the site of the pending Texas fracking lawsuit, advocates for both sides were meeting to discuss potential legislation. Environmental activists who encouraged the city’s ban met with oil and gas industry lobbyists about legislation under consideration in Austin.

An industry spokesman said that the Texas fracking lawsuit stems largely from a lack of “regulatory certainty” and that the industry wants clearer regulations from state legislators. State Representative Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) called the meeting between the groups to determine how new legislation could clarify the roles of cities in enacting rules that restrict fracking activities.

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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