Denton Ban Update

The Denton City Council took public comment on the proposed hydraulic fracturing ban at a Tuesday evening meeting that stretched into the wee hours of Wednesday morning. After hearing from citizens on the issue, City Council rejected the proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing in the city.

The ban was before the Council as a result of a petition campaign by various activists who want to see energy production outlawed in the city.

The meeting began with two Denton residents who presented another petition to the Council, this one signed by more than 8,000 residents who did not want the ban adopted by the Council. Also, the Council heard from various industry, economic, and legal experts about the harm that would come from enacting the ban in Denton.

Numerous speakers pointed out that the ban would bring substantial costs to Denton citizens and the city itself. Barnett Shale Education Council Executive Director Dr. Ed Ireland read from a study conducted by the Perryman Group that found that the “overall harms” of the ban would be “substantial, including the loss of thousands of jobs over the next ten years, and millions of dollars annually for relevant tax entities” at the local and state level.
 
Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips explained that "state regulation of oil and gas exploration and production has displaced a city’s ability to ban all economically viable drilling within its borders.” This means that the ban is "unconstitutional" according to Phillips, and it will cost the city millions of dollars to defend in court. 

While petition supporters initially stuck to their talking points that a ban on hydraulic fracturing would not prevent drilling in the city, most of these activists had discarded that distinction by Tuesday as their sweeping anti-fossil fuel agendas were on full display. 

Supporters of the ban seemed frustrated that local citizens, mineral rights owners, veterans, and representatives of various stakeholder groups dared to interfere with their constitutionally dubious efforts to eliminate energy production. Interestingly, some pro-ban speakers seemed to concede that they were on shaky legal footing, but they assured those listening that a flood of magical and mysterious outside money would come in and keep the city from going bankrupt while fighting lawsuits that will result from the unconstitutional drilling ban. Several of the speakers promising this outside support also assured the Council that the ban was simply a 'homegrown' effort.

It was a great night for common sense and civil engagement in Denton. Voters will have the final say on the issue as it is now set to appear on the ballot in the November election. 

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