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Earlier this year, Denton residents went to the Texas capital to defend their fracking ban. (Photo: Frack Free Denton/Facebook)

With Local Democracy Squashed, Fracking to Resume in Texas Town

Just seven months ago, nearly 60 percent of Denton voters approved local fracking ban, but city says law is 'rendered unenforceable' by state legislation

Deirdre Fulton

Less than two weeks after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation to prevent local municipalities from regulating a wide variety of drilling practices, fracking is set to resume in the city of Denton, where nearly 60 percent of voters banned the practice last November.

According to KERA News, "Vantage Energy plans to resume fracking operations at eight gas wells in the North Texas city on June 1, the Colorado-based operator has told city officials, and it plans to frack at least eight more wells later in the year—flouting the town's seven-month-long ban on the controversial technique of blasting apart shale to bolster petroleum production."

The new state law—House Bill 40—forbids the city from enforcing the ban, though Denton vowed in a press release to "continue to regulate other surface activities related to drilling operations per our existing oil and gas well drilling ordinance."

Of the state ban on fracking bans, the group Frack Free Denton wrote earlier this month that "the legislature just used its oil and gas money and its bully pulpit in Austin to overturn a grassroots democratic decision in Denton."

KERA News reports "[t]here are rumblings about town that some Denton residents — unhappy with the city’s decision to stand down — plan to protest around the Vantage well sites."

As Frack Free Denton previously declared: "We can’t say for sure, but it’s a good guess that the people of Denton won’t just let that happen without at least bearing some sort of witness there to the demise of democracy."

In Oklahoma, where a sharp uptick in earthquakes has been conclusively linked to fracking, the state legislature has passed similar legislation that would overturn an 80-year-old statute that allows cities and towns to ban drilling operations within their borders. That bill is currently awaiting the signature of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin.

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