Fracking company receives waiver for suspension two months before potential ban

Fracking company receives waiver for suspension two months before potential ban

Fracking company receives waiver for suspension two months before potential ban
September 10
21:27 2014

Paul Wedding / Intern Writer

Vantage Energy, a Colorado-based natural gas collection company, has received a waiver to drill five natural gas wells on land in far west Denton near U.S. Highway 380 and Nail Road, in spite of the moratorium imposed on new gas wells by the City of Denton in May.

The waiver was granted close to election time in November, when local voters will decide whether or not they want fracking allowed in Denton. If the fracking ban were to pass, it may cause Vantage’s drills to stop altogether.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment voted 6-1 in favor of the waiver. Vantage was granted the waiver after meeting a certain set of criteria provided by the board. The criteria for a waiver are: that the ordinance imposes undue hardship, the hardship is not self-imposed, that the waiver would not harm nearby land and that a waiver would, in fact, be in harmony with the moratorium. Lindsey Baker, public information and intergovernmental relations officer, provided the criteria.

Vantage claims that by delaying the drilling through the moratorium, it will increase truck traffic moving from the drill sites. By providing a waiver, it would reduce the number of rig moves in and out of the city. Vantage had submitted for these permits in 2011, and had already invested in the drilling sites.  The company provided a display table that showed there is no adjacent land being developed for any use near their well site.

As for being in harmony with the moratorium, Vantage claimed the spirit of the moratorium isn’t to stop all fracking as much as it is to bring all wells into compliance with the city’s new ordinances. Denton has passed several restrictions in the past few years, but they do not apply to old wells, so energy companies have been tapping old wells that do not have to comply with the new ordinances. Vantage says the new wells will apply with the new ordinances.

Despite the fracking ban being voted on in November, Vantage is not worried that it will pass. They believe the initiative is being pushed by mostly college students, said Brian Baldinger in an interview with the Denton Record Chronicle. Baldinger owns the land on which Vantage plans to drill. Vantage could not be reached for comment.

Philosophy professor Adam Briggle, who put the fracking ban together, believes that this proves that a moratorium will stop fracking.

“The only way to stop the industry from jumping through loopholes is to ban fracking altogether,” Briggle said.

Featured Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Staff Illustrator

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