Fracking bill delayed, protests on hold

Fracking bill delayed, protests on hold

April 15
23:53 2015

Paul Wedding / Senior Staff Writer

Last November, Denton residents voted to pass an ordinance banning fracking wells. In response, the Texas legislature introduced a bill that could make that ban meaningless.

House Bill 40 would prohibit ordinances regulating oil and gas wells and would leave jurisdiction strictly to state government, allowing them to retroactively remove any ordinances related to oil and gas wells they do not like, such as Denton’s fracking ban.

An Austin protest was scheduled for the night before the bill would be voted on. However, the bill and the protest were delayed due to an error in HB 910, the open carry bill. A local protest was canceled as well.

Denton resident Alfredo Sanchez organized the protest.

“As soon as they [oil and gas companies] lose, they went to legislature and bought them off, as far as I’m concerned,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s time we stand up and say we’re not happy with the legislature. We can’t pay them off like the oil companies, so our only alternative is to protest and go to Austin.”

Sanchez said this is the start of Denton losing control of its city.

“The next time they [corporations] decide they want something else, they’ll just go to Austin and change the rules,” he said.

Abraham Benavides, public affairs department chair and expert on local government, said the state’s actions are perfectly legal. He said the state grants local authorities power, and the state legislature has wanted more power for years.

“There’s a number of other cities that have ordinances that have to do with drilling, but Denton banned it completely, and the state took that as an affront and said, ‘Wait a minute, you’re stepping on our jurisdiction,’” he said. “So, I think the state is going to have to act.”

Psychology sophomore Evan Moore said he sees the bill as hypocritical due to Texas’ conservative leanings.

“These are the same people that don’t want big government in their lives, and yet they want to interfere with their local government,” Moore said.

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