North Texas Daily

City council votes to repeal fracking ban

City council votes to repeal fracking ban

City council votes to repeal fracking ban
June 17
11:33 2015

Edith Emeralda | Practicum Writer

The Denton City Council took action Tuesday night to repeal the prohibition of hydraulic fracturing, 6-1, as two lawsuits related to the ban continue in Denton County district court. The ban was seven months old.

Place 6 councilman Greg Johnson made the motion, seconded by District 1 councilman Kevin Roden, based on the best choice between two hard options.

“If we repeal the ordinance now, we do know for sure that the lawsuits are going to go,” Johnson said. “I just don’t think [letting the court win] is the risk we have to take given the end result is we still don’t get to enforce our ban.”

Some legal experts present at the city council hearing suggested that the lawsuits, filed by the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the Texas General Land office, will be withdrawn now that the ban has been lifted.

Roden seconded the motion while urging the council to do work sessions as soon as possible.

“What I’m hearing from folks, from two weeks ago and today, is there’s this question of ‘Where are we going from here?’” Roden said. “There is a lot of possible answers to that and I think we owe it to the community to now have a discussion of what is our value as relates to this type of industry in the city.”

Regarding the summary judgment from the two lawsuits against the ban, Denton City Attorney Anita Burgess said that there are 21-calendar-days to respond to the legal issue.

“We will be marshaling all assets to move forward and to take action to defend against this motion for summary judgment,” Burgess said.

She continued that whether or not they will be able to obtain such concessions is uncertain.

Denton Mayor Chris Watts first said he is “99 percent okay with repealing the ban,” though he was not prepared to say so at the meeting. After a second recess, the mayor agreed with majority to repeal the ban with an agreed upon amendment acknowledging the history the ban has been through, including an applause to “the sustained efforts of our citizens to retain and protect local control.”
About 24 people came forward during the first round of public hearing for the ordinance. Five came forward on the second round of public hearing with topics relating to other parts of fracking such as planning and zoning, emergency evacuation and insurance policy.

The hearing came on the same day Theron Palmer and his 92-year-old mother, Violet Palmer, were arrested at the entrance of the Vantage Energy well site on Nail Road in Denton. The pair were protesting House Bill 40, a law that neutralized the fracking ban before the city voted to repeal on Tuesday.  Theron and his mother joined seven others who have been arrested at the site on trespassing charges.

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