The State of Texas vs. The People of Denton, Texas
On November 4, 2014, the people of Denton, Texas voted to ban the practice of hydraulic fracking in their communities. The citizen-driven initiative passed, so the matter was settled, right? Wrong, The State of Texas and the Texas Oil and Gas Association filed lawsuits against The City of Denton challenging its ban on hydraulic fracking on state constitutional grounds. The lawsuits do not specify what part of the state constitution the ban violates.
The City of Denton chose to ban hydraulic fracking because the greater majority of people in Denton voted for it. The city chose to answer the aforementioned lawsuits rather than lift the ban. The city responded to the lawsuits by asserting that the process (hydraulic fracking) is “a public nuisance and one that subverts public order.” In a prepared statement, the mayor, Chris Watts, said, “The filings were consistent with the City Council’s direction to uphold the vote of the community.” I applaud Denton for standing up to the state politicians and corporatists in the oil and gas industry who think their crony capitalism trumps municipalities and local communities.
There is another lawsuit that will play an important role in the people of Denton’s ongoing battle to ban hydraulic fracking. Forty-three homeowners in the Vintage and Meadows at Hickory Creek neighborhoods have filed a lawsuit against EagleRidge Energy. The homeowners are asking for $25 million in damages for “nuisances that have diminished the value of their properties.” This lawsuit has the potential to stop, or potentially motivate the numerous oil and gas companies to relocate their operations further away from neighborhoods, fracking in Denton, ban or no ban.