Defend the Ban

On November 5th, the morning after we passed the ban, the oil and gas industry and the state of Texas sued the city of Denton. Not long after that, some state legislators filed proposed bills that (if voted into law) would undermine the authority of municipalities to regulate oil and gas development and even to vote on citizens’ initiatives.

In other words, we very quickly went from the “pass the ban” phase of our campaign to the “defend the ban” phase. This post is intended to get you up to speed quickly on where things now stand as we seek to defend the ban – and the very ideal of local control – both in the courthouse and at the statehouse.

  1. The Lawsuits

Here is the Texas General Land Office (GLO) lawsuit against the city of Denton. And here is the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) lawsuit against the city. You will see that they are both essentially preemption lawsuits – that is, the industry and the state are claiming that the city does not have the authority to ban hydraulic fracturing.

The TXOGA lawsuit is being heard in the 16th District Court in Denton County by Judge Sherry Shipman.

The GLO lawsuit was recently moved from Austin to Denton and it looks like it will also be heard by Judge Shipman.

The Denton Drilling Awareness Group (DAG), which spearheaded the Frack Free Denton campaign and Earthworks (which helped DAG all the way) have been allowed to act as intervenors in at least the TXOGA case (here is the motion for intervention). This essentially means that they have entered as co-defendants to help the city. DAG and Earthworks are being represented by attorneys from Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Brown and Hofmeister.

  1. The Legislation

At least four bills have been proposed in the state legislature in response to the Denton fracking ban:sliders2

HB 539 (Phil King, R-Weatherford) This bill would require cities to pay the state for lost revenues resulting from local oil and gas regulations.

HB 540 (Phil King, R-Weatherford) This bill would require cities to first get the attorney general’s blessing before putting a citizens’ initiative up for a vote.

SB 440 (Konni Burton, R-Colleyville) This bill would prohibit cities or counties form banning hydraulic fracturing. *update this now seems to be flying under the number SB 720 (slightly revised version of same thing, same sponsor).

SB 343 (Don Huffines, R-Dallas) This bill would effectively eliminate home rule for Texas cities.

Clearly these are all bad bills (we criticize some of them here).

  1. What You Can Do
  • Get on the bus to Austin. On Monday, March 2, citizens from this area will take a bus to Austin to speak with our state leaders about proposed legislation. Sign up here…tickets are just $15.
  • Contact (visit, call, email) your state legislators.
  • Representative Myra Crownover.
    • District Office
      O. Box 535
      Lake Dallas, TX 75065
      (940)321-0013
      (940)497-0121 Fax
    • Capitol Office
      Room 4S.3
      O. Box 2910
      Austin, TX 78768
      (512)463-0582
      (512)463-0471 Fax

Denton, Texas 76207
(940) 898-0331
Fax: (940) 898-0926

  •        Capitol Office 

State Capitol, Room 1E.9
P.O. Box 12068
Capitol Station
Austin, Texas 78711
(512) 463-0130
Fax: (512) 463-8874

  • Write a letter to the editor. Here is a link to the form – it is very easy to do and takes just a few minutes.
  • Donate to Denton DAG so that we can help win in the courthouse and at the statehouse. We need funds to help cover expenses of lobbying in Austin and to help pay for legal fees. You can donate online here or send checks to “Denton DAG” to 1620 Victoria, Denton, TX, 76209.