After Banning Fracking, Denton Braces for Backlash from Drillers, a Bush and its Own Lawyer

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Rich Anderson
Denton residents passed a fracking ban, but now it's up to to city leaders to defend it against the powerful oil and gas industry.
Last week, Denton became the first city in the state to pass a citywide ban on fracking. Voters approved the ban in a landslide, with 59 percent in favor of the ban and 41 percent against, after more than five years of struggle between anti-fracking activists and the energy industry.

See also: Denton Fracking Ban Passes, But for How Long?

Now comes the backlash. The General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association are the first, so far, to file suits against the city. Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick is also hinting at legal action, and has announced her agency will continue to grant drilling permits to companies in Denton.

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Dallas' Sprawl Could Go on Forever Thanks to Self-Driving Electric Pod Cars, Researcher Says

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Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler
Plano in 1891
Density is good. Regionalism is bad. Dallas' city government should focus on the city itself, not on getting in good with our suburban neighbors by forming partnerships that hurt the city itself. These are things Unfair Park has heard so often that it basically takes them to be true. For Dallas to become the proverbial "world-class city" it must focus on its urban core, promoting transit, walkability and growing up rather than growing out. If those things don't happen, the thinking goes, then the city's long-term existence is in doubt. We'll be crushed under the weight of toll lanes and the cars of distracted commuters scurrying north at the end of the workday.

What, though, if that wasn't true? What if there was a way forward for auto-centric, low-density cities ringed by suburbs that didn't require a paradigm shift so much as being just a little more purposeful about the trajectory the city was already on?

That's the idea proposed by Dr. Anthony Townsend, the Senior Research Scientist at the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management at New York University, in his paper "Re-Programming Mobility."

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Denton Fracking Ban Passes, But for How Long?

Categories: Environment

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U.S .Geological Survey
The Texas Oil and Gas Association and General Land Office are the first, so far, to file lawsuits against the city of Denton.

By the time Denton's city offices opened this morning, officials already had two brand new lawsuits waiting for them. As Denton's attorneys begin the weary post-election process of sorting through a legal defense against this inevitable barrage of suits, it's clear the battle over the ban on fracking voters approved Tuesday has just begun.

Denton's proposed fracking ban, which had gained national attention in the last few weeks, passed Tuesday night in a landslide: 59 percent of voters favored the ban, while just 41 percent voted against. This is despite ban opponents far out-spending and out-advertising anti-frackers. Frack Free Denton raised just $75,000 for its campaign, compared with $700,000 spent by pro-fracking groups.

See also: Frackers Have Launched an Aggressive Campaign to Kill Denton's Drilling Ban

But now that the morning-after glow of victory has subsided, the City of Denton must face the mighty backlash of the oil and gas industry. City spokesperson Lindsey Baker confirms that the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the General Land Office are the first so far, though most decidedly not the last, to lash out against the ban.

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Texas' Only Natural Lake Is Polluted With Oil, and the EPA Isn't Paying Attention, Activists Say

Categories: Environment

Texas has exactly one good sized natural lake that we share with Louisiana, and it's totally not getting flooded with oil right now, officials have assured us these last few weeks. On October 13, workers noticed crude oil leaking out of a pipeline and into a Louisiana bayou. The pipeline operator estimated a loss of 4,000 barrels, making it one of the largest spills this year. But while the bayou feeds into the beloved Caddo Lake, the oil has supposedly been stopped in its tracks.

The spill was "immediately contained," a spokesman for the Louisiana State Police told the Wall Street Journal on October 14.

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Nonstop Electioneering Could Sway Last-Minute Decisions on Denton Fracking Ban

Categories: Environment

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Aaron Jacobs
Both Republican and Democratic Denton voters are influenced by last-minute electioneering outside Denton's voting locations

On the last day of early voting in Denton, the Denton Civic Center parking lot was abuzz with one of the most controversial, high-cost issues in Denton history: The fracking ban. The city is considering what would be the state's first citywide ban on fracking. In a state that has eagerly embraced heightened oil and gas drilling in recent years, the passage of the ban would send a powerful message of local environmental concerns to drilling companies across the country.

See also: Frackers Have Launched an Aggressive Campaign to Kill Denton's Drilling Ban

Outside the Denton Civic Center, one of three early-voting locations within the city, both Frack Free Denton and Responsible Drilling representatives raced each other to every car that pulled into the lot. Both had quick speeches and cards prepared to hand out to voters.

Ed Soph, one of the leaders of Frack Free Denton, says the constant, aggressive electioneering has paid off. Soph says he, and fellow Frack Free Dentonites, have won many last-minute votes.

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Underdog Anti-Frackers Struggle for Denton's Vote, But Fight Could Swing Either Way

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Tom Arthur
Dentonites are turning out more than ever for early voting, many in response to the proposition to ban fracking in the city.

As early voting wraps up this week, Denton County has seen a surge in voters, as well as campaign spending. Much of that has to do with the fracking debate, which has also incurred more spending than any other campaign in Denton's history.

See also: Frackers Have Launched an Aggressive Campaign to Kill Denton's Drilling Ban

"It's pretty fair to assume that given how much money is poured into this, that's why so many people are out," says Dr. Adam Briggle, a leader with Frack Free Denton and a bioethics professor at UNT. "Everything now is focused on communicating with voters, especially at the polls, and making sure that they're not confused when they're going in to vote. The language is definitely written by a lawyer. So we want to make sure that folks know that they're voting what they want to vote for."

As of Tuesday night, Denton County election officials report, there was a 16 percent increase in early voting from the 2010 election: 47,035 in-person votes were cast, up from 40,529 on the same early-voting day in 2010.

"I have noticed since I came here that there is great activity," says Lannie Noble, Denton County elections administrator. "We've had people at a lot of early-voting locations trying to get information out to the voters. Most especially here in Denton we've had the fracking parties, for and against, well-represented."

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Texas Drillers Lead the Nation in Pumping Benzene into Earth, Which Is Not Good

Categories: Environment

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Joshua Doubek
Slip through the right series of loopholes and it can be perfectly legal to inject benzene into oil wells. Naturally, drillers in Texas figured this out thousands of gallons of benzene ago.

Using data disclosed by the oil industry, a new report calculates all the benzene that is legally going into wells across the country. There's a lot, it turns out, and it's mostly in Texas.

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Frisco Says Exide Is Being Cheap about Potential Superfund Site Cleanup

Categories: Environment

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Lead makes you dumber, even if you only eat or inhale just a little bit. (Don't take my word for it, see what the scientists are saying). So when Frisco became one of 21 places in the country that failed lead-air quality standards that the feds implemented in 2008, people pointed their fingers at Exide's battery recycling plant in town as a likely culprit.

Exide agreed to close the plant in 2012 and shortly after filed for bankruptcy. Then Frisco officials announced last year that the city would probably keep and contain the lead at the spot where Exide left it, even though researchers say that toxic landfills in populated areas are a terrible idea.

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Frackers Have Launched an Aggressive Campaign to Kill Denton's Drilling Ban

Categories: Environment

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TXSharon
If you live in Denton, you've probably received one of these anti-ban flyers in the mail.
If you've driven up I-35 to Denton in the last month, you may have seen one of the many billboards popping up around town. The billboards loudly proclaim the economic damage that a city ordinance banning natural gas and oil drilling could cause to the city, and encourage residents to vote against the fracking ban on November 4.

See also: Denton Didn't Ban Fracking Last Night, but Voters Will Get a Chance to in November

The billboards are just the beginning. Recently, Denton residents have been inundated by a deluge of mail campaigns, phone surveys, and local billboard advertisements discouraging the ban, and one resident, Heidi Klein, says pro-drilling advocates are going door to door to lobby against the ban. The phone survey that Klein, and many fellow Denton residents, report receiving last week is particularly disturbing:

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Fracking Emission Carcinogens Found in Denton Playgrounds

Categories: Environment

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Kevin Payravi
Several Denton playgrounds have been found to have unsafe levels of benzene.

A new report published by ShaleTest, an independent environmental research agency in Denton, found levels of benzene in several Denton parks that exceed the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's long-term exposure limitations. Benzene is a carcinogen found in cigarettes, gasoline and is a common byproduct of oil and gas drilling sites.

McKenna Park is one of the playgrounds where unsafe levels of the chemical were found. The playground is located next to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Denton, within a neighborhood, next to several churches and across the street from one of Denton's many Rayzor Ranch gas wells.

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