AUSTIN — Denton residents, concerned about air quality, noise and potential water contamination, may be the first in Texas to ban hydraulic fracturing — but if they do, state lawmakers will likely push back.
Groundwater contamination near North Texas shale gas wells could be caused by a faulty casing or poor cement construction surrounding the casing, according to a new study published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
Registration opened at 1 p.m. today for residents who want to address the City Council about a proposed citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Denton has become ground zero in Texas in the fight over hydraulic fracturing. A local and long-simmering fight over the effects of fracking on Denton neighborhoods is morphing into a statewide battleground over a city’s right to police what happens within its boundaries.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has predicted a dramatic drop in North Texas ozone levels over the next three years, according to a preliminary model of air quality from now through 2018. But will it happen? The agency doesn’t have a good track record with predictions.
After three months of reflection and several government reports, key questions remain unanswered following a gas well blowout on April 19 near homes, businesses and Denton Enterprise Airport, including why it took hours for anyone to call either 911 or state regulators.
After another round of meetings this week — public, private and behind closed doors — the chasm between city leaders and residents over rewrites to the gas drilling ordinance appears to have widened considerably. The City Council appeared satisfied with the rewrites during a work session last Tuesday, giving little feedback to the staff on the fifth draft other than to ask how to best explain the final product to residents.
The first draft of new rules for natural gas drilling and production in Denton will be unveiled with the city’s gas well task force Monday evening. The task force is scheduled for a briefing with attorneys in closed session and then move to a public meeting at 6 p.m.
A shale gas operator has asked out from Denton’s current moratorium on gas well development. EagleRidge Energy and EagleRidge Operating applied July 20 for variances for four gas well pad sites in northwestern Denton. The city will have a public hearing on the request during its regular meeting Sept. 11.
A minority report from members of Denton’s official gas well task force says the task force was too small, did not represent residents, did not fully vet their concerns on natural gas production and, unlike similar committees in other cities, did not hear expert presentations or make site visits.
Members of the Denton’s gas drilling task force moved on a few items that could improve site conditions around natural gas wells and production facilities, although the group declined to advance all the items that could make both old wells and new ones look better.
Denton’s official gas drilling task force made scant progress this week with new recommendations to reduce noise created by natural gas drilling and production facilities. A 3-2 vote defeated a measure to limit the amount of noise such facilities could make at night and in neighborhoods.