- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

DENTON, Texas (AP) - The city of Denton pushed back Monday against lawsuits by oil interests and the Texas General Land Office intended to stop a voter-approved fracking ban from going into effect.

The city filed a motion asking that the Land Office’s lawsuit be moved from Austin district court to Denton. The Land Office has alleged the ban violates its rights as the statewide manager of mineral interests.

Denton also argued against a separate lawsuit filed by the Texas Oil and Gas Association, saying the group has not made clear its arguments that existing state authorities pre-empt any local attempts to regulate oil production.

The oil and gas association argues Denton didn’t have the authority to ban fracking because state authorities regulate it.

In its motions, Denton said its voters banned fracking within city limits because drilling trampled on their rights and created several problems.

“Such conditions include, but are not limited to, noise, increased heavy truck traffic, liquid spills, vibrations and other offensive results of the hydraulic fracturing process that have affected the entire Denton community,” the city said.

Denton and Texas officials remain in a face-off in a state where fracking has produced thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenues, but also questions about whether the process damages the environment and causes earthquakes.

Denton last month became the first city in Texas to ban new fracking. But the chairwoman of the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, has already said she will continue to approve new permits because it is a state decision, not a local one.

No hearings have been scheduled in the legal process.

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