Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Calls Proposed Denton Fracking Ban ‘Extremely Misguided’; Asks City Council to Reject Measure

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On July 11th, Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman sent a letter to the mayor and city council members for Denton, Texas asking that the council reject a proposal to ban hydraulic fracturing in Denton. Chairman Smitherman’s letter, which calls the proposed attempt to ban drilling “extremely misguided”, was sent ahead of the July 15th public hearing on the matter.

Denton is currently under a drilling moratorium after the City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance on May 9th of this year which stated that “… increased drilling in close proximity to residential and other protected uses… have resulted in negative and deleterious effects on Denton citizens, calling into question whether the various interests could be better balanced by additional review of the city’s ordinances and regulations… ” The July 15 hearing and vote was mandated by Denton’s municipal law after an organization called the Denton Drilling Awareness Group presented the city council with a petition which now contains over 1,900 signatures asking that fracking be banned in the Denton city limits.

In the four-page letter, Smitherman stated that a “ban on hydraulic fracturing of oil and natural gas wells within the city limits of Denton is essentially a ban on drilling” and argued that “[t]hose advocating for a ban on hydraulic fracturing know that what they are really calling for is a ban on drilling.” Smitherman will not be able to attend the council meeting but has requested that his letter be considered by the council as part of its decision.

If the ban is adopted, Denton would be the first Texas city to ban fracking. If the council rejects the proposal, the initiative would be included as a ballot measure for Denton residents to consider in November.

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