Texas city bans fracking in its birthplace, court battles loom

oil-pumps-dusk_300x168Chicago Tribune

By Reuters

Voters approved a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the north Texas town of Denton on Tuesday, making it the first city in the Lone Star State to outlaw the oil and gas extraction technique behind the U.S. energy boom.

The vote in the city of 123,000 was highly symbolic because hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is widely used in Texas, the top crude producer in the United States.

Green groups said the result served as a wake-up call to the industry, but several similar measures failed in cities and counties in Ohio and California.

The Texas Oil & Gas Association, the state’s energy lobby, on Wednesday quickly filed for an injunction.

“A ban on hydraulic fracturing is inconsistent with state law,” Thomas Phillips, a former head of the Supreme Court of Texas who now represents the trade group, said.

Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, the state’s top energy regulator, called for the prohibition to be tossed out.

“Bans based on misinformation — instead of science and fact — potentially threaten this energy renaissance and as a result, the well-being of all Texans,” he said.

In a frack job, a mix of pressurized water, sand and chemicals is used to unlock hydrocarbons from rock. Operators say it is safe but many environmental groups oppose the practice – calling it wasteful, polluting, dirty and noisy.

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