As we previously reported here at the Monitor, the City of Denton, Texas made headlines last year when it became the first municipality in Texas to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Almost immediately after the bill’s passage, the Texas Oil and Gas Association filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance. In addition, the Texas General Land Office filed a lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the City from enforcing the ban. As my colleague, Caroline Toole reported, the lawsuits were promptly followed by legislation in Texas that effectively preempted local fracking bans in the State. Faced with this new statewide legislation, in addition to the ongoing litigation, the City of Denton voted recently to repeal its fracking ban.
As explained on Denton’s website:
“Denton Council Votes to Amend Ordinance to Repeal the Hydraulic Fracturing Ban
DENTON, TX, June 17, 2015 – The Denton City Council voted 6-1 to amend to repeal Initiative Ordinance No. 2014-01, known as the hydraulic fracturing ban. As this ban has been rendered unenforceable by the State of Texas in HB 40, it is in the overall interest of the Denton taxpayers to strategically repeal the ordinance. Doing so not only potentially reduces ongoing court costs and attorneys fees related to ongoing litigation with the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TxOGA) and the General Land Office (GLO), but it also significantly mitigates problems and perceptions associated with operational discrepancies between the ban ordinance and newly-adopted state law, to which the City is bound to comply. HB 40 is the law now in the State of Texas. Denton will comply with it so long as it remains valid. Council members emphasize this decision was not taken lightly, and that the City Council is looking to the long-term interests of this city by balancing all concerns and concluding the litigation on the matter.” It remains to be seen if the repeal is the “end of the road” for Denton’s efforts to limit fracking within its borders. As reported in the Shale Energy Insider, “Campaigners are undeterred by the decision: Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas said they are ‘definitely discouraged but not ready to throw in the towel. There is still room to fight within the law.’” We will, of course, keep an eye on developments and report on them here at the Monitor.