Hydraulic fracturing in Denton: the latest
The Denton City Council on Tuesday repealed the hydraulic fracturing ban that has become Denton’s signature issue; Mayor Chris Watts even called it the most difficult issue the city has ever dealt with. The council voted 6-1, with only Keely Briggs voting against the measure.
Here’s why that’s important:
The morning after Denton voters imposed the ban on fracking, two lawsuits were filed against the city, one from the Texas General Land Office and the other from the Texas Oil and Gas Association.
Texas politicians in Austin this past legislative session passed House Bill 40. Under the new law, subsurface rules by municipalities are not allowed, as well as other regulations on oil and gas operations. Both offices amended their respective lawsuits to cite HB 40 as the essence of their claims against Denton.
So, in what is being called a “strategic” move by the city, the city council voted to repeal the ban in hopes of putting an end to the lawsuits that are underway in Denton County district court. According to information provided by the city, Denton has spent $842,215.32 on fees related to the litigation.
But that hasn’t stopped activists from protesting a Vantage Energy well site on Nail Road where the company began operations immediately after HB 40 was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
Ten people have been arrested and booked by Denton Police on trespassing charges. The protestors usually start early in the morning, before the Vantage employees arrive on site, to prevent the workers from entering the site on what is being called “Frack Free Fridays.” Of the many signs photographed, they often read that the protestors are enforcing the ban, circumventing the government.
The most recent activist to be arrested is Meredith Leaghn Buie, 32, who was taken by Denton police Friday when she sat in the middle of Nail Road, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
Before Buie, Theron Palmer and his 92-year-old mother, Violet Palmer, made international headlines when they were arrested. There have not been any reports of altercations between police and those charged.
The North Texas Daily is following the story. Updates will be posted as they are made available.
Featured Image: Denton activists march down Nail Road in protest of fracking within their city limits after voting for the ban. Hannah Ridings | Visuals Editor