Denton has benefited economically for years from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
Despite having prospered from its huge natural gas reserves for over a decade, this Texas city, which is located just north of Dallas, is seriously thinking about banning fracking and, if this should happen, Denton would become the first city in the state to prohibit the controversial mining practice permanently.
Hydrofracturing has temporarily been put on hold by city leaders as an ordinance is considered.
A college town and a former farming center, Denton has preserved a great deal of its agricultural history. The city boasts an historic downtown with streets that are populated by buildings from the 19th century. It has huge fields with grazing livestock and greenhouses. However, despite its green beauty, there are over 270 active gas wells and drilling is always occurring close by.
The city’s enthusiasm for rejecting fracking, particularly in Texas, the largest producer of oil and gas in the U.S., shows that Denton residents are seriously shifting their thinking compared to other communities in the state that have happily embraced the money-making drilling practice. Despite the fact that Denton’s gas fields have generated a billion dollars in mineral wealth and brought more than $30 million into city banks, some of the city’s 120,000 residents imagine an environmentally friendly future for their city that is fracking-free.
Some residents have even started a campaign to convince the producer of Sriracha hot sauce to expand its business in Denton, which would appeal to the city’s farm to table culture, as Sriracha is a huge pepper-grinding business.
Stricter fracking regulations were proposed by the Denton Drilling Awareness Group.
Hydraulic fracturing started in Denton in 2000 and, while it brought prosperity to the city, the drilling practice also brought doubts to residents; doubts which grew steadily over the years. Finally, in 2009, one of the city’s residents and a nurse, Cathy McMullen, organized a protest consisting of 300 people that was against the five gas wells that were planned for a meadow that was across from one of the city’s parks.
The Denton Drilling Awareness Group not only called for tighter drilling rules, it also managed to temporarily halt new drilling permits. At the same time, however, drillers went against city rules by burning off white gas in residential areas and by not lining wastewater pits. According to McMullen, “All that did was make people so fired up.” She added that calling for an outright ban was all that could be done. “We had no choice,” she said.
If the city council should reject the fracking ban, it will move to voters in November.