Denton Council leaving fracking decision up to voters

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by LAUREN ZAKALIK & JENNY DOREN

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaalauren

WFAA

Posted on July 15, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 16 at 10:24 AM

DENTON -- There will be no ban on fracking in Denton at this time.

After more than eight hours, the City Council shot down the ban -- but they are leaving the final decision up to voters.

Hundreds of people testified overnight, some with emotional testimony on what they say fracking has done to the health of their families.

Denton mom Maile Bush has been waiting to sound off on an official platform about fracking for years.

“Since the fracking started, my children have had headaches, coughing and nosebleeds,” she told a packed house at the Denton City Council Tuesday night.

Bush is one of the nearly 2,000 people who signed a petition to get hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, banned in the city of Denton.

That petition was an unprecedented move in oil and gas-rich Texas, and if passed, would make Denton the first Texas city to outlaw the drilling technique.

Because of the number of signatures, the City Council and mayor had to consider the ban. Since they didn't approve it, the ban will now go on the ballot in November.

The mayor and Council heard the arguments Tuesday night. More than 500 people were in attendance at the meeting, either in chambers, overflow rooms, or at the civic center watching the meeting streaming live.

But the consideration didn’t come without some questions and some loud opposition, including two men who came with their own petition, claiming to have gathered 8,000 signatures from like-minded Denton residents who oppose any ban on drilling.

“There are many of us in Denton who support reasonable and responsible drilling regulations instead of a drilling ban,” one of the men said.

There is debate over whether fracking causes health and environmental risks. Ban supporters say those claims are true; opponents say there is no proof.

An estimated 110 people signed up for public comment Tuesday, each given three minutes to state their case. But many went over their time limit, and Council members had questions for some of those speakers — elongating the already-lengthy process.

If the ban is approved by voters, Denton stands to lose more than $250 million to its economy in the next 10 years.

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com & jdoren@wfaa.com

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