Frack Free Denton

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Groups Move to Intervene in Defense of Denton Fracking Ban

Denton Drilling Awareness Group & Earthworks act to counter lawsuits challenging local law
Denton, TX, Dec. 4 — The Denton Drilling Awareness Group (DAG) and Earthworks today filed intervention papers in two lawsuits seeking to overturn the Denton, Texas ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that went into effect on Tuesday, December 2. 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 residents, with Republican and Democratic majorities, voted overwhelmingly to ban fracking,” said DAG president Cathy McMullen. “Our city has the legal power to prevent bakeries from setting up shop in residential neighborhoods. To suggest that we don’t have the legal power to similarly bar fracking, a much more dangerous process, is the height of industry arrogance.”

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 State and industry could have respected Denton communities’ health, safety, and property,” said Earthworks’ energy program director, Bruce Baizel. “They chose not to. The ban is the result. Now, rather than constructively engage with the community, they simply overlook their regulatory failure and move to overturn democracy through legal action.”

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.

The State of Texas has granted municipalities the right to oversee oil and gas operations. The people of Denton have exercised that right, and we intend to help preserve it,” said Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg, who represented the Town of Dryden, N.Y., in a landmark case, decided in June, allowing municipalities throughout New York to prohibit oil and gas development within their borders. “Communities from California to Texas to New York are fed up with the abuses of the oil and gas industry. When state and federal officials won’t stand up for the public, citizens must have the right to use local democracy to protect themselves.”

“This fight cuts to the heart of our democracy, and it is far from over. The people of Denton have voted to keep fracking away from their homes and schools—they will not be bullied by powerful oil and gas companies that want to make a profit at the expense of their health,” said Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Dan Raichel. “Denton is a pioneer in Texas, but it is not alone. This community joins hundreds of others around the country—and in Texas—that are demanding the right to determine what happens within their own borders.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
  • Intervention filing: http://bit.ly/PetitionToIntervene
  • City of Denton answers to TXOGA lawsuit:
    • Comments – bit.ly/DentonTXOGAcomments
    • Motion – bit.ly/DentonTXOGAmotion
  • Denton Ban text: http://frackfreedenton.com/read-the-ballot/

CONTACTS:
Alan Septoff, 202-887-1872 x105
Keith Rushing, Earthjustice: 202-797-5236
Kate Kiely, NRDC: 212-727-4592
Cathy McMullen, DAG: 940-600-4122

Our Democracy at Risk

Texas legislature: put your money where your mouth is

Tell Phil King that if he tries to overturn the Denton fracking ban,
he IS big government

Texas Representative Phil King was elected promising to fight big government and protect local control.

“We should always trust people over big government. Local control and limited government must be the first resort, not the last.” — philking.com/about

He is well on his way to breaking his promise, and becoming the biggest hypocrite in Texas in the process.

Because, now that Denton’s voters have banned fracking by ballot initiative, Rep. King wants to prevent other cities from doing the same, and maybe overturn Denton’s ban in the process.

Denton’s ban vote was a landslide. The people who know fracking best – there are over 270 fracked wells in Denton, some only 200 feet from homes – said no. And the voters who did so were majority Republican, and elected Republicans in the same election.

Before Denton’s ban, King was for small government. Now he says citizens shouldn’t be able to decide how, when, where, or even if fracking happens in their cities.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Rep. King to respect democracy! Tell him principles are what you believe in, even when people disagree with you.

Frack Free Denton statement in response to industry lawsuit to stop the ban

Contact: Adam Briggle, dentondag@gmail.com, 940-536-8710

Statement of the Frack Free Denton/Denton Drilling Awareness Group Board

We expected the oil and gas industry to sue the citizens of Denton after we voted to ban fracking.

Unfortunately, industry has met our expectations. They have apparently learned nothing from last night’s landslide vote. They have taken no time to reflect on their own irresponsible actions that brought the people of Denton to this point.

Industry could have taken this moment to address why the ban was passed. Instead they’re going to try to squash it.

If justice prevails, and we think it will, they will lose.

We WON! A few thoughts from president Cathy McMullen

This is a victory for the citizens of the city of Denton.

For our families, for our health, for our homes, and for our future.

What does this fracking ban mean?

It means we don’t have to worry about what our kids are breathing at city playgrounds.

It means we can cheer on the Mean Green without fracking pollution blowing over the football field.

And it means we don’t have to worry about our property value taking a nose dive because frackers set up shop 200 feet away.

But this ban wouldn’t have passed without the tireless efforts of countless people concerned enough about their city to help make this happen.

Unfortunately, not all is sweetness and light.

We know the oil and gas industry is going to sue to try to overturn the fracking ban.

But we lawyered this ban every which way before launching this effort. And we consulted legal precedents for Texas home rule cities like Denton. And we’re confident it will stand up.

We know the oil and gas industry is going to try to use our own state government against us by directing its paid flunkies to overturn the ban in the legislature.

To them I say, if you vote to overturn this ban, never again say you’re against big government

Because politicians didn’t pass this ban.

This ban is the voice of the citizens of Denton speaking directly to the fracking industry, and local, state and national government: WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH.

So try to overturn it if you will. But know that if you do, you are on the side of corporate interests and against the people.

Because this isn’t a ban on fracking everywhere.

If YOU want fracking in YOUR COMMUNITY, fine! Keep it.

But in Denton, we don’t.

And if you force it on us anyway, that is the VERY DEFINITION of big government.

To those in industry and government who are concerned by the success of this ban, rather than try to overturn it, address why we had to pass it.

Because the ban was our LAST RESORT. We tried for years to get government and industry to work with us. And they wouldn’t. This was the only way left open to us. And so we took it.

If you want to prevent more bans, especially in towns that know drilling best, do yourselves a favor and listen to concerned citizens. Because if you don’t, you may wind up reaping what you’ve sown.

RELEASE: Infrared videos show Denton oil and gas air pollution still unaddressed by regulators

Despite industry promises to operate responsibly, videos show chronic, ongoing releases of volatile organic compounds within Denton city limits

Oct 21st, Denton, TX — Newly released infrared videos taken over the past three months show that oil and gas air pollution is ongoing, chronic, and unaddressed in Denton, Texas despite assurances of safety by industry. The videos make visible normally invisible volatile organic compounds emissions (VOCs) — such as carcinogens like benzene.

“These videos prove to Denton residents that, even as they go to the polls bombarded with industry promises of ‘responsible drilling’, those promises are empty.” said Earthworks’ Texas organizer Sharon Wilson. She continued, “Instead, we’re getting polluted with ongoing, long-term exposure to poisonous volatile organic compounds.”

FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) cameras are used by the oil and gas industry and government regulators specifically to detect leaks of volatile organic compounds. The videos released today were taken by an ITC certified Optical Gas Imaging thermographer using a FLIR GF 320 camera.

The Denton City Council promised at a 2013 public meeting to monitor air pollution from oil and gas operations. It has not done so. When individual instances of pollution have been brought to the attention of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has dismissed them, claiming they didn’t violate short-term pollutant exposure standards. The videos released today show the pollution to be long-term.

“Citizens shouldn’t have to measure fracking air pollution. That’s government’s job,” said Cathy McMullen, president of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group and Frack Free Denton. She continued, “But when citizens provide proof of pollution, regulators need to investigate, not dismiss the problem. The fact that government neither detected the pollution, nor acted upon previous evidence of pollution, is a main reason why we need to ban fracking in Denton.”


For more information:

Map of Denton with links to all videos:

Regarding the FLIR camera used to take the videos:

Contact:

  • Sharon Wilson, 940-389-1622, swilson@earthworksaction.org

Polka your way to the polls!

Denton’s Brave Combo

The world-renowned but still very much local Denton band, Brave Combo, has graciously offered to put on a show in support of a Frack Free Denton. Early voting starts on the 20th so come out, celebrate, dance, and most importantly VOTE!!

Local puppet troupe Puppets for the Planet will open with a musical comedy on fracking featuring the Frackettes! Also rumors of a frack free flash mob to take place, come catch all the fun!

Concert info:
Monday, October 20th, 7pm
Quakertown Park, 700 Oakland St.
Denton, TX 76201

Sign up for the concert on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/773527429352353/
Follow the Live Stream here:  http://ustre.am/1ihBv

Keep it clean

Mr CleanIt has come to our attention that some overzealous fracking ban supporters are defacing our opponents’ billboards.

We want to be make clear that we condemn such actions.

When we win the ballot initiative, we want it to be a clean victory in all respects.

And besides, (the fracking industry’s) breaking the rules is what we’re fighting against. It’s why we need a fracking ban in the first place.

So please, don’t play our opponents’ game. Keep it clean.

Fracking ban opponents attempt to change rules of debate

Denton Drilling Awareness Group/Frack Free Denton

 

For immediate release: Oct 10, 2014

Contact: Cathy McMullen, cathymcmullen@live.com, 940.600.4122


Fracking ban opponents attempt to change rules of Oct 14 debate

Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy’s board members refuse to engage without trial attorney 

Oct 10 – Today the Denton Drilling Awareness Group announced it would not participate in a public debate scheduled for next Tuesday, October 14th, to have been hosted by the Denton Republican and Democratic Parties. Denton DAG agreed to participate in the forum with only one stipulation: that the opposing view be presented by “a current member of the Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy’s board”.

“Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy epitomizes the oil and gas industry that they’re defending,” said Denton Drilling Awareness Group President Cathy McMullen. She continued, “Rather than comply with the rules, fracking industry advocates are trying to change them to suit their interests. We do not agree.”

The letter sent to the chair of the Denton Republican Party chair, Dianne Edmondson, and the Denton Democratic Party chair, Phyllis Wolper, reads as follows —

Dear Ms. Edmondson and Ms. Wolper:

The Denton Drilling Awareness Group board will not participate in the October 14th forum unless either Bobby Jones or Randy Sorrells is Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy’s sole representative as a speaker at the forum.

Our original stipulation was “a current member of the Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy’s board”.

Mr. Hayes was not listed as a member of Denton Taxpayers’ board, or even as a donor, on its campaign filings. He was not listed as a board member on this organization’s website when this discussion began, and still is not listed as one as of this writing. Mr. Jones and Mr. Sorrells are apparently unwilling to defend their cause personally and in public. Instead they prefer to engage a trial attorney. We do not agree.

To be clear, we are not arguing the point nor opening a discussion; we are informing you as a courtesy.

Sincerely,

Cathy McMullen
President
Denton Drilling Awareness Group Board

***

Denton Drilling Awareness Group is the organization backing the Frack Free Denton campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing within Denton, Texas City limits. It is comprised entirely of volunteers who are also residents of Denton.

 

www.frackfreedenton.com
@frackfreedenton
facebook.com/frackfreedenton

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.