Oil and Gas Industry and Oldest State Agency Move to Decimate Community and Democracy in Oil-Soaked Texas

Random thoughts with updates about the Denton fracking ban by TXSHARON, November 5, 2014, Blue Daze

People drove pickup trucks with Greg Abbott stickers to the polls, voted straight Republican and still voted for the ban. Eighty plus year-old ladies voted for the ban then ranted against Obama. They voted in Myra Crownover again despite her threats to support legislation to make the ban illegal and her years of supporting industry over her constituents. It will be interesting to watch the awakening.

That’s how bad the reality of fracking is. No one can live with it, not even industry’s political base.

This is industry’s own fault.

There are some things that money can’t buy, even a mega crap-load of money.

Texas city bans fracking in its birthplace, court battles loom by Marice Richter, November 5, 2014, Reuters
The vote in the city of 123,000 was highly symbolic because hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is widely used in Texas, the top crude producer in the United States. … The Texas Oil & Gas Association, the state’s energy lobby, on Wednesday quickly filed for an injunction.

“A ban on hydraulic fracturing is inconsistent with state law,” Thomas Phillips, a former head of the Supreme Court of Texas who now represents the trade group, said.

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, the state’s top energy regulator, called for the prohibition to be tossed out.

“Bans based on misinformation — instead of science and fact — potentially threaten this energy renaissance and as a result, the well-being of all Texans,” he said.

“Denton, Texas is where hydraulic fracturing was invented,” said Bruce Baizel, Earthworks energy program director. “If this place in the heart of the oil and gas industry can’t live with fracking, then who can?”

Fracking was pioneered at the Barnett shale formation where Denton is located. Exxon Mobil’s XTO unit honed its shale expertise in the natural gas-rich Barnett. … There are about 270 wells in Denton, about 30 miles (50 km) north of Dallas and home to two state universities. “It’s essentially a ban on all drilling,” said Ed Ireland, executive director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, a group aligned with producers. “No one would try to drill a well if they can’t frack it.” [Emphasis added]

Industry sues over Denton fracking ban headline later changed to Oil and gas industry, Texas Land Office sue over Denton fracking ban by James Osborne, November 5, 2014, Dallas News Litigation over the passage of a a hydraulic fracturing ban in Denton Tuesday night has already begun. The Texas Oil and Gas Association filed for an injunction in state court in Denton Wednesday morning to stop the ban from being implemented.

And the Texas General Land Office, which controls oil and gas leases that fund public education, has sued the town too, calling the ban, “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.”

“TXOGA believes that the courts of this State should give a prompt and authoritative answer on whether Denton voters had the authority under state law to enact a total ban on hydraulic fracturing within the city limits,” attorney Thomas R. Phillips, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas said in a statement.

“A ban on hydraulic fracturing is inconsistent with state law and therefore violates the Texas Constitution.” Denton is the first municipality in Texas to vote in a ban prohibiting hydraulic fracturing, which is used to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations. Similar ordinances in other parts of the country have met with limited success in the courts.

One exception is New York where the state supreme court recently upheld towns’ rights to prohibit oil and gas drilling. Litigation over the fracking ban has been widely anticipated. And Denton city officials have said they are prepared to defend the ordinance in court. [Emphasis added]

2014 11 05 Texas General Land Office snap Denton fracking ban passed in landslide by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, November 5, 2014, Denton Record-Chronicle Denton became the first Texas city to ban hydraulic fracturing Tuesday after a citizen-driven proposition cruised to a landslide victory at the polls. The election garnered national attention, and the ban is likely to set off a long legal fight. …

The campaign was the most expensive by far in Denton’s history. Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy, the leading group opposing the ban, had raised almost $700,000 since July, almost all of which came from energy companies including Chevron, XTO Energy and Chesapeake Energy.

The group Frack Free Denton, in contrast, had raised about $75,000 since July.

Resident Cathy McMullen, who helped spearhead the drive to ban fracking, said more than 50 volunteers greeted voters at every Denton polling location Tuesday despite the cool, rainy weather. “Everybody who worked on this believed in it with their whole heart,” she said. … Ed Longanecker, president of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, said the outcome was unfortunate but ultimately will be decided by the courts. [Emphasis added]

Texas Legislature: Respect Denton’s fracking ban by Rudolph Bush, November 5, 2014, Dallas News   

The city of Denton showed last night what happens when industry pushes too far into people’s lives and too close to their homes. In a vote that the oil and gas industry and the legislators they support should hear very loudly, the city’s residents agreed to ban hydraulic fracturing within their city limits. What do you expect will happen next?

Will the Republican legislature, the one whose members so often decry the heavy hand of Washington, respect the will of a local populace? No, lawsuits will pile up against this ban. That’s certain.

But more harmful would be a legislative attempt (that will surely be successful) to diminish or eliminate the ability of local people and municipalities to control what happens within their own boundaries when it comes to oil and gas exploration.

We will probably hear lots of talk about streamlining regulation and how it’s important that everyone across the state is on the same page.

That’s double-talk and justification for taking away the power of local people to control what kind of industry is set up in their own backyards. [Emphasis added]

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