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HB40’s final defeat on Denton fracking ban

The controversy surrounding Denton, Texas’ on-again-off-again fracking ban has been a unique ordeal, to say the least.

The conflict over whether or not to allow the city to back hydraulic fracturing inspired a cabaret music troupe, prompted in the arrest of a blind 92-year-old woman and, unsurprisingly drew scorn from the rest of oil-rich state until House Bill 40 put the kibosh on any county or city-sanctioned frack bans.

Though Denton’s voter-approved bar of fracking within city limits seemed to have a fighting chance in May, when Denton City Council imposed a moratorium on oil and gas activities until a solution was reached, the council moved to repeal the ban altogether last week.

In a Denton Record Chronicle report, city leaders called their decision a “strategic repeal” in hopes of redressing lawsuits filed against the city by the Texas Land Office and TXOGA.

Denton Mayor Chris Watts, who voted in favor of the repeal, told the Associated Press he did so with a heavy heard.

“It was probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make, to see the hard work and heart and soul that was poured into the effort and to prevail at the ballot box, to then have a different level of government under it,” Watts said.

Does this mean the conflict has been laid to rest? Not necessarily, says Adam Briggle of Frack Free Denton, who was among three protestors arrested during a sit-in protest at a nearby Vantage Energy facility earlier this month.

Briggle said Denton fracking opponents will shift their focus to state-level government with the goal of repealing House Bill 40.

“Initially, it was about health and safety and protecting our neighborhoods, and those continue to be our goals, but it’s now also about democracy and supporting people’s voices and their votes,” Briggle told the Associated Press.

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