Fracking Carpetbaggers

The money behind fracking ban opponents might as well come in one of these.

The money behind fracking ban opponents might as well come in one of these.

Today, the Denton Record Chronicle reports on the financing of those supporting and opposing the fracking ban on the ballot this fall. (Spoiler: we want you to vote FOR the ban)

The raw campaign finance reports are available if you want to pore over them yourself, but here’s the nut:

The group against the ban, Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy, has received $230,000 in donations. Of that, only $750 comes from Denton sources. The rest comes not from out-of-town residents, it comes from out-of-town fracking companies: $75,000 from XTO, $75,000 from Enervest, and $75,000 from Devon.

In other words, “Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy” isn’t from Denton at all. More properly named, it’s “out-of-town oil and gas corporations against a Denton fracking ban”.

On the other hand, our campaign finance reports show that $30,000 of our donations came from… Earthworks!?!?!? Say what?

First thing, Earthworks is part of the Frack Free Denton campaign, no doubt about it. Their logo has been our website from the get-go (see our website’s footer). And they’re part of it because we invited them. We invited them because that’s what Earthworks does: they help communities that are wrestling with the oil and gas industry. In Texas, besides Denton they’ve helped Southlake, Flower Mound, and Dish, among others.

And yes, it’s true, strictly speaking Earthworks cut the checks for yard signs, newspaper ads, and even this website.

But it’s untrue that the Frack Free Denton campaign is funded by Earthworks.

How so? Because more than 95% of the money Earthworks spent on Frack Free Denton originated in Denton. Dentonites gave the money to Earthworks to give to us.

Why would people choose to give to Earthworks rather than directly to the campaign? It could be that Earthworks has a 4-star rating by respected evaluators of non-profit organizations and is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity. But, it could also be that by donating through Earthworks instead of directly to Frack Free Denton, donors don’t have to share their name with anybody – including the oil and gas industry. They can protect their identity. And in case you’ve forgotten, the oil and gas industry has been very aggressive toward anyone working to limit its reach.

Think Responsibly

Oh, the irony!

The opposition to the ban describes their message as responsible. The root of the term is to respond or to be accountable. Yet it is precisely the industry’s failure to respond to our community’s concerns and their refusal to be held accountable to our rules that has brought us to this point.

They’ve really taken irony to new heights with their latest flyer and advertisement. Yes, they care so much about our local economy that they are going to sue us for millions. Of course, they know darn well there is no possible scenario where Denton loses millions (read on).

They act un-neighborly by ignoring our ordinance and fracking right next to our homes, schools, and parks. Then they threaten us with lawsuits…. And now they want to talk about responsibility?! Never has the word “responsible” been used so irresponsibly:

  • They call for “responsible drilling,” when the ban only applies to fracking. The word ‘drilling’ is not even in the ballot language.

 

  • They offer a false choice, as if we just need better regulations. What they don’t say is that we actually have responsible regulations in our 60-page ordinance (sub-chapter 22). But our rules do not apply, because everything you see on the map below is vested under older rules. Operators have already gone ahead with fracking 200 feet from homes despite our rules that require a 1,200 foot buffer. That is going to happen again and again. Our choice is either mass neighborhood industrialization or the ban. You pick the responsible option.

map red circles green dots

  • They accuse the leaders of Frack Free Denton of being outsiders – even suggesting that we have “direct ties” to Russia. Of course, we are the ones who spent years at City Hall helping to write our rules that are now being systematically ignored by the industry. Meanwhile, the opposition won’t even send a local board member to debate us. And the only time they ever showed up at City Hall was to drop off a bogus, deceptive petition they paid an out-of-state company to run.

 

  • They commission an economic report about the costs of the fracking ban from a company that uses a proprietary methodology and that has a track record of exaggeration. Then they parade these hyperbolic numbers around in deceptive mailers and advertizements. They even wrap themselves in the credibility of our Chamber of Commerce when no local businesses were asked their opinion on the matter. Then, to heap hyperbole atop itself, they even misquote their own report. When we point out that THEIR OWN NUMBERS show fracking is 0.2% of Denton’s economy and 4x LESS economically productive than other land uses, their response is a telling silence. Here is UNT Prof. Matt Fry dispelling the myth of the local fracking boom:

 

  • Having lost the economic argument, they now turn to threats of lawsuits. Their latest ad claims defending the ban in court will be a ‘waste’ of city tax dollars. Since when is standing up for our health and safety a waste? Is it a waste to protect our children and our homes? Responsible people know that some things are worth fighting for.

 

  • That same ad claims the ban will cost ‘millions’ in lawsuits. This is baseless fear mongering. The Town of Dryden, NY successfully defended their fracking ban for $38,000. Three cities in Colorado with fracking bans collectively spent about $109,000. Notably, defending their bans cost half as much as writing ordinances to regulate fracking. So, the opposition is telling us to spend twice as much money on pointless rules that won’t apply to anything. Now, that seems like the real ‘waste’ here. Further, Denton’s City Attorney has said we have a “substantial resource” of available funds to defend the ban – indeed we have on hand easily 40x the resources it cost these other cities to defend their bans.

 

  • They keep making confident assertions that the ban is an illegal takings. But the fact is that there is no case law in Texas for this. We will be in uncharted territory. Nonetheless, a very strong case has been made that the ban is perfectly legal and defensible in large part because it does not prohibit drilling and there are 18,000 conventional wells in our area that do not require fracking to produce gas. Even in the unlikely event the ban is overturned, the city won’t owe millions to anyone. The gas will still be in the ground – no one is taking it in the way someone takes property when they pave it over with a highway.

The opposition is running a classic “ELF” campaign – exaggeration, lies, and fear.

Too bad for them that Denton voters are too smart for that.

Please, think responsibly. Then Vote FOR the Ban.

 

How David Beats Goliath

Thanks to Lisa and Doug Henry opening up their home last night, we had a very successful fundraiser. The generosity of all their guests will allow us to accomplish our goal of running more ads.

This is how David beats Goliath. Thank you!

It is now one month until we #passtheban. What can you do to make that happen? Please consider donating online or by check to “pass the ban” at 1620 Victoria, Denton, TX, 76209.

But this is about more than money. Let’s see the creativity of little d unleashed. Can you make memes? Can you do creative performances? Can you write letters to the editor? Blog? Host a meet and greet in your home? Hand out flyers and doorhangers? Whatever you can do – let us know on our volunteer link.

Here is one concrete suggestion. The orders for yard signs have been so overwhelming that we have nearly run out. We are ordering some more. But in the meantime, why not make your own homemade sign? For creative inspiration, enjoy this song by local Denton artists.

 

 

Thank you Robson Ranch!

Frack Free Denton would like to thank the residents of Robson Ranch for inviting us to participate in a very important forum last night. It was an honor to have the chance to speak to such well-informed citizens. Members of our group have long admired the civic spirit and volunteerism of the Robson community. It was a delight to be so warmly welcomed by such wonderful people.

We know you all are going to do your homework on this issue. We invite you to browse our website and check us out on Facebook. A good place to start might be our “ten reasons to ban fracking in Denton” tab and our “frequently asked questions.” To see how the fracking ban will strengthen Denton’s economy, please visit our post “grow strong and healthy,” where you can crunch the numbers for yourselves.

A lot was said about the science. It is indeed complex, but a growing body of peer-reviewed research is showing just how dangerous fracking is. You can find an independent database of peer-reviewed studies at “scientific studies.” You can also talk to any City Council member and they will tell you that not even the industry representatives they speak with want to live near fracking sites.

If you’d like to speak to members of our group, feel free to write to info@frackfreedenton.com. You can also call Denton Drilling Awareness Group President Cathy McMullen at (940) 600-4122 or fellow board member Adam Briggle at 940-536-8710.

It’s unfortunate that the other speaker did not know the name of the group opposing the ban. That makes it difficult for you to access their information and conduct a balanced inquiry into the issue. In the spirit of democracy, we’d like to point you to their website here so that you can measure their side against ours.

Thank you all again for the invitation!