Denton, Texas chose to enact an unprecedented ban on fracking that took effect on December 2, 2014. The town currently sits on top of the Barnett shale formation, which developed the method used to get oil and gas located deep within the earth.
Lawsuit Enacted by Oil & Gas Proponents
In the November elections, Denton voters elected to enact the ban, making them the first town in Texas to prevent fracking within their borders. Texas is home to a number of fracking companies that use the significant number of underground formations to extract energy.
Following the election, both the Texas Oil & Energy Association and the Texas General Land Office filed a lawsuit against the town with hopes of overturning the ban. The next steps for the town will be determined in the courtroom. Oil and energy companies have long had an interest in the Barnett shale formation since Exxon-Mobile honed its expertise in the industry in Denton. The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates Texas's energy industry, believes that the ban will be reversed with the assistance of a lawsuit.
What is fracking?
Fracking occurs when a mix of pressurized water, sand, and other chemicals are blasted into underground layers of rock. Oil and natural gas is released during this process. Many environmental groups and scientists are opposed to the continuation of fracking since the mixture of chemicals used has not been released, but is considered to be toxic. This water is then stored in underground wells, allowed to be evaporated, sprayed into fields, or used for fracking over again. The oil and gas industry and many government officials claim fracking does not pose a risk to human health.
However, the Denton community cited the link to groundwater contamination, increase in earthquakes and drought conditions, and health concerns for residents and the environment as reasons to enact and uphold the ban. These reasons are part of why fracking bans have been voted on across the United States, with many towns choosing to enact bans that run counter to state laws allowing the practice.