A North Texas city council on Wednesday refused to enact a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the city after holding an eight-hour public hearing.
The Denton City Council voted 5-2 against the proposal, sending it to the November ballot that now leaves its fate on voters.
Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a method of oil and natural gas extraction that involves pumping a mixture of sand, water and chemicals deep into the underground rocks at high pressure in order to free the trapped resource. Environmentalists have been up in arms against the technique, saying that it pollutes underground water supplies as well as air quality, reported Fox News.
Since Denton City sits on top of a huge underground natural gas reservoir, state regulators and energy firms said the ban will be opposed in courts and also massively affect Denton’s economy. Denton sits atop the Barnett Shale, which is estimated to have one of the largest natural gas deposits in the United States.
Tom Phillips, a former Texas Supreme Court chief justice, who spoke on behalf of the influential Texas Oil and Gas Association, said that its members will file lawsuits if the ban is approved.
Barry Smitherman, the Chair of Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas, said in a letter sent to Denton’s city council and mayor last week that the ban will make America more reliant on foreign oil and natural gas imports.
The threats of lawsuits seemed to affect the voting pattern, with Councilman Greg Johnson expressing concern that the litigation from mineral holders and the state may send Denton City into bankruptcy. About 500 people showed up at Denton City Hall for the hearing.
The environmental group Earthworks, which had mobilized 1,900 signatures from locals to force the council to vote on the ban on Wednesday, said that it had proposed a ban as a last resort after energy firms disobeyed city rules such as the one on flaring. To register for a free 2-week subscription to ForexMinute Premium Plan, visit www.forexminute.com/newsletter.
To contact the reporter of this story; Jonathan Millet at firstname.lastname@example.org