- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

DENTON, Texas (AP) - The mayor of the North Texas city weighing a ban on hydraulic fracturing this week said he’s prepared for the court battles that might result if the ban passes.

Denton Mayor Chris Watts told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (https://bit.ly/1tw35rI ) that he expects Tuesday’s referendum “may be just the beginning for us.”

“The vote is not the end of the story,” Watts said. “It may just be the beginning. It may be decided at the courthouse or at the Statehouse.”

Already, state officials and oil industry groups have suggested they will file lawsuits and move to block any attempt by Denton to stop fracking altogether.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit hydraulic fracturing, which pumps water, sand and chemicals underground to release otherwise-unreachable reserves of oil and gas. Denton has 272 active wells within its city limits, the newspaper reported.

Opponents complain the practice may increase earthquakes and that the resulting waste fluid can cause environmental damage.

Cathy McMullen, leader of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group, which collected petitions for the referendum, said lawyers reviewed the proposed ordinance beforehand and that she was certain it was lawful.

But Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has already said he is prepared to sue if the referendum passes. Patterson told the city earlier this year that its leaders don’t have the power to ban fracking altogether.

Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips, who now works for the Texas Oil and Gas Association, has also said he thinks an ordinance would break state law.

“The state has a strong policy in favor of oil and gas development,” Phillips told the newspaper. “To completely ban it, we think, runs afoul of the law.”

If the referendum passes on Tuesday, the new ordinance would likely take effect on Dec. 2.


Information from: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, https://www.star-telegram.com

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