Denton voters will have the final say on whether fracking will be permitted within city limits.
Last night, the Denton City Council voted 5-2 to reject the petition and unanimously to place the issue on the November ballot and let voters decide whether to ban fracking within Denton. The vote came at approximately 3:00 am after eight hours of public discussion. More than 100 citizens spoke at the meeting and more than 500 people were in attendance. [Read more here and here and here.]
Earlier this year, nearly 2,000 residents signed a petition circulated by the Denton Drilling Awareness Group in favor of the ban, which required the city council to hold a public hearing on the petition. Currently, Denton has enacted a temporary fracking ban that expires in September. If voters pass the ballot initiative in November, Denton will be the first Texas city to prohibit fracking.
If passed in November, the fracking ban will almost certainly face extensive legal challenge from landowners, mineral owners, and/or the oil and gas industry. One likely challenge is that municipalities do not have the authority to regulate oil and gas production as that power is given to the state-wide Texas Railroad Commission. A similar argument was recently rejected in New York state. Opponents also claim that this type of ban would constitute a regulatory taking, for which just compensation would be owed to the property owner.