Denton Residents Angry as EagleRidge Continues to Frack Near Homes

Categories: Environment

dentontexas.jpeg
Brandi Korte
Earlier this year, the city of Denton approved regulations that would supposedly stop gas companies from drilling new wells near homes. Yet recently, residents in the Vintage neighborhood began noticing some suspicious noises and vibrations. They were coming from an old gas well site nearby. Denton officials realized a company was drilling there and sued to stop it. But the lawsuit didn't work out for Denton, and last week the city officially caved.

On Friday, the Denton City Council passed a new law explicitly allowing the company to keep on drilling at the controversial site. The moral of this story is that following city ordinances as they're originally written is for suckers.

Denton is one of the many smaller cities nearby that for years has allowed natural gas companies to come in and drill, providing a model -- or maybe more like a cautionary tale -- for Dallas, which has yet to allow fracking in city limits until everyone agrees on how to regulate it. (Supposedly, the Dallas City Council will settle the issue once and for all on December 11, when they are scheduled to vote on an ordinance requiring 1,500 feet between fracking wells and homes).

In Denton, meanwhile, getting permission to frack a natural gas well once used to be pretty easy. But as the years wore on, Denton's laws got a little tougher. At the start of this year, the Denton City Council amended its drilling ordinance. Now drillers are supposed to stay a full 1,200 feet from houses.

So residents in the Vintage neighborhood were not happy when they noticed "vibrations, noise and glare" about 600 feet from their homes, on an old drilling site at 3696 S. Bonnie Brae.

The city intervened with a lawsuit last month against EagleRidge, the energy company with mineral rights to the 12-year-old site on Bonnie Brae. "The actions of the Defendants are causing immediate and irreparable harm," the city's lawsuit says. Denton asked for a temporary restraining to stop EagleRidge from drilling.

On October 23 Denton dropped the suit. The city's chances of winning hadn't been looking good. Judge L. Dee Shipman already denied Denton's request for a temporary restraining order against EagleRidge.

Last week, many angry residents filled in the Denton City Hall, asking the city to stop EagleRidge from drilling on the Bonnie Brae site.

Instead, on Friday the City Council passed an ordinance allowing a "Standstill Agreement" between the city and gas company. It is an agreement of sorts, but one that looks awfully nice for EagleRidge. "During the Standstill Agreement, Eagleridge will not drill, re-drill or frac...any wells within the corporate limit of the City, except for the following," the agreement explains, before listing 12 wells that are exceptions. That includes the controversial wells at the Bonnie Brae site, also known as Bonnie Brae 4H, 3H and 2H.

On his website, Denton City Councilman Kevin Roden doesn't hide his ticked-off feelings about EagleRidge, but he says that a cozy relationship between the fracking industry and the state has left Denton without much choice. He adds that there are still another 400 plus wells in Denton that will be off-limits to EagleRidge under the new agreement.

Adam Briggle, a philosophy professor at UNT who regularly blogs about local drilling, has a more cynical take: "the City gave EagleRidge their blessing to frack many of the most controversial wells in town and got nothing meaningful in return. "

Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.

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21 comments
Anon
Anon

The moral of the story is don't trust the State of Texas to protect the health, safety, or welfare of its citizens.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Cue shermbeck and dallas.drilling.wordpress in ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...


Seriously, I think that there are some legal concepts at work here that may not be fully explained in the story.


Had the City of Denton already issued the drilling permits?  Were the wells already in existence?

I seriously doubt that EagleRidge would have committed the capital for their activities unless they were certain that they would be able to follow through on them.


I also looked at Councilman Roden's linked blog page.  I think that the legal concept at work here is "ex post facto".

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

But we're talking gas, man.

Don't stop til the Earth breathes its last gasp.

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

When all the gas and oil is gone, will Earth die?

Gangy
Gangy

@ruddski People will die before all the gas and oil are used.  We can't use much more before the amount of carbon in the air exceeds what humans can survive.

B_L_Zebubba
B_L_Zebubba

@scottindallas

An "Organic gardener by trade" - a professional organic gardener? I'm skeptical there is such a thing.

B_L_Zebubba
B_L_Zebubba

@RTGolden1

That's because there weren't any industrialized humans around to cause those previous episodes; this episode, by all available evidence as processed by knowledgeable climate scientists, is being accelerated by a dominant anthropogenic cause.

Just because previous global warming episodes had no anthropogenic component doesn't preclude this one from having one, or least being accelerated by one.

observist
observist

@scottindallas @Gangy @ruddski  

Do you have a link to something credible indicating that not one prediction has ever been right?

Scientists pursuing government grants are still not paid to reach pre-defined conclusions, and their publications are still subject to peer reviews, etc.

Most of the anti-climate change information I've seen comes from groups funded by oil companies, the usual right-wing activists - Koch, Scaife, Olin or funded anonymously.  For example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heartland_Institute

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@Gangy @scottindallas @ruddski please note, I'm an organic gardener by trade.  I take stewardship of the land seriously.  The arguments for conservation, efficiency and protection of habitats doesn't require some chicken little alarm.  It makes its own sense.  I'm simply following the evidence, not tilting at every claim that is "green"  "Greenwashing" is about green, as in dollars, and seldom about good evidence and prudent policy. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Gangy @ruddskiTry 36% of the climate scientists.  http://oss.sagepub.com/content/33/11/1477.full


I'm sure I could find more reports stating varying percentages and opinions.  The point is: If the science were conclusive, you wouldn't have a controversy, because there wouldn't be anything to base an opposing opinion on.  Climate change IS real, yes, no one is refuting that.  Human caused climate change is very debatable, and even History provides irrefutable models arguing against human actions being a main cause of climate change.  (In none, zero, zilch of the previous Ice Ages and subsequent 'Global Warmings', did human actions have ANY kind of effect whatsoever).

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@Gangy @ruddski No Gangy, it's not science.  It's disturbing that "science advocates" don't know what science is.  It requires supported hypotheses.  Yet, not one prediction has even been right.  To argue that there's no global warming at all is more accurate, more supported by the evidence than a single prediction made by your "scientists"   Your "scientists" are pursuing grants not science

ruddski
ruddski topcommenter

Wow. Two scientists. That's practically a global consensus.

Gangy
Gangy

@scottindallaslas @ruddski  The 12 hottest years on record in the world in recorded history (through 2012)  were 2010, 2005, 2009, 2007, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2012, 2011, 2004, 2001.

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