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An Anti-Fracking Initiative...in Texas?
Voters in Denton, pop. 121,000, will decide in November "whether the city will become the state’s first to ban fracking. But passage of a ban would probably trigger another fracking fight: a legal clash over a city’s power to regulate for health and safety and the rights of mineral owners to develop their resources," writes Jim Malewitz, energy reporter for The Texas Tribune. His article also appears in The New York Times.
The ban's proponents, led by an organization called the Denton Drilling Awareness Group, call it a last-ditch effort to address noise and toxic fumes that spew from fracked wells just beyond their backyards, after local drillers have refused to comply with the city’s existing regulations.
Malewitz writes that proponents gathered "nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition calling for a ban on fracking, opponents forced the City Council to vote on it. Council members rejected the proposal last week, leaving the decision to voters...The outcome could reshape Texas law at a time when drilling is causing tension in some of its urban areas."
Speaking of local initiatives to ban fracking, we have yet another update from The Centennial State where the energy industry has been on a winning streak since voters in four Front Range cities approved bans last November. The first city to ban fracking in Colorado was Longmont in Nov. 2012. However, the energy industry immediately sued with support from the state.
Alan Neuhauser, energy and environment reporter for U.S. News & World Report, reports that "the judge struck down the fracking ban (July 24th), saying it created an 'irreconcilable conflict' with the state's interest in regulating and developing its oil and gas resources."
This latest blow to fracking opponents comes after voters in Loveland defeated a fracking ban initiative last month, a first, and a statewide initiative to enable local bans was dropped due to lack of signatures, though two may still qualify for November.
Post Addendum: This is our second post on Denton, the "best college town in Texas". In 2011, the city council "approved a traffic safety ordinance to assert the rights of the road for cyclists and other vulnerable road users," writes former Planetizen editor Tim Halbur.