The Denton Drilling Awareness Group (DAG) and Earthworks has filed intervention papers in two lawsuits seeking to overturn the Denton, Texas ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that went into effect on December 2, 2014.
DAG’s Frack Free Denton campaign, with Earthworks’ help, successfully secured passage of a ballot initiative making Denton the first Texas city to ban fracking.
The groups are represented by the Texas local government law firm Brown & Hofmeister, and attorneys from national environmental organizations, Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council, are seeking court permission to participate as co-counsel.
Denton passed the fracking ban when attempts to work with the industry failed, and local and state regulators allowed new fracking operations adjacent to homes, schools, parks, and hospitals. Repeated citizen testing of fracking facilities within Denton detected carcinogens at levels exceeding state and federal exposure limits.
The groups moved to intervene in two separate lawsuits brought against the City of Denton: one by the Texas Oil and Gas Association in the Denton County District Court, and the other by the Commissioner of the General Land Office (a state agency that manages certain state-owned lands and mineral interests) in Travis County District Court.
At the heart of the cases is the claim that Denton’s ordinance is overridden or “preempted” by state law. Texas has a longstanding tradition, however, of home rule authority over oil and gas development within municipal borders.
Comprehensive local oil and gas ordinances are in force across the state, including in nearby Flower Mound and Dallas.