Citizen Action Monitor

After Denton TX residents voted to ban fracking, Texas state lawmakers passed a law barring fracking bans

Protesters defying new law, continue protests, police arrest activists, thanking them for their community service

No 1357 Posted by fw, June 03, 2015

“The city of Denton, Texas, (pop. 113,383) is in a showdown with Big Oil after it tried to pass a ban on fracking within its city limits. On Tuesday night, residents of Denton, about 30 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth, packed a city council meeting to oppose a vote to repeal the ban. The vote was ultimately tabled. The move comes after Texas lawmakers passed a new law that prohibits such bans. The measure went into effect on Monday. That same morning, three protesters locked themselves to the entrance of the first fracking well to reopen. It was just this past November that nearly 60 percent of Denton residents supported the ban at the ballot box. But they were immediately threatened with lawsuits by the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the Texas General Land Office. Those same interests worked with lawmakers and the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, to pass this new ban on fracking bans known as House Bill 40.”Democracy Now

On a related note, in a June 3, 2012 post, I applauded the strategy of Pennsylvania’s Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) for actively promoting local-level constitutionalism and anti-corporate ordinances. Here is the essence of the CELDF strategy: “The more we go on record as wanting to redeem our democratic sovereignty, and the more the kleptocracy has to resort to brute lawlessness to assert its prerogatives, the more its true barbaric thug essence will be clear.” And the more citizens will rally to the side of David over Goliath. (Source: Far and away the best damned strategy I’ve seen for building a grassroots transformational mass movement).

To view Democracy Now’s interview with Tara Linn Hunter, volunteer coordinator for Frack Free Denton, click on the following linked title. Alternatively, below is an abridged transcript of the interview, including the embedded interview video (10:42 min). And at the bottom of this post, don’t miss Tara Linn and her group, The Frackettes, singing The Death of Democracy.

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Fracking Protests Continue in Texas as New ALEC-Backed Law Bars Towns from Banning Drilling by Democracy Now, June 3, 2015

Tara Linn Hunter, volunteer coordinator for Frack Free Denton, was arrested on Monday as part of protests to stop the first new fracking well since Denton residents voted to pass a fracking ban last November. We are joined by Tara Linn Hunter, volunteer coordinator for Frack Free Denton.

 

TRANSCRIPT (Unless otherwise noted, Tara is the speaker)

Amy Goodman — We go to Fort Worth, Texas, where we’re joined by Tara Linn Hunter, volunteer coordinator for Frack Free Denton. She was one of three people arrested Monday. Another three were arrested Tuesday. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Tara. So, explain where Denton stands right now.

Tara Linn Hunter — Well, right now, what we’re seeing is that our vote has been disregarded and overturned with the passage of House Bill 40. So that nullifies our ban and makes it unenforceable. And what we’re seeing now is that residents are willing to go out every morning to the frack site and put themselves on the line to enforce their ordinance and make the vote of the people heard.

Our ban was completely legal. We went through the citizens’ initiative process to get that on the ballot. It’s a petition process. We only needed 500 signatures; we got 2,000. And we put it to a vote to the people of Denton. And they overwhelmingly voted to ban fracking. So it was a completely legal process that we followed. And then, they passed House Bill 40. They basically had to go change the law in order to beat us. So…

I got involved because I moved to Denton to study music, specifically singing. We’re known for our music and art in my town. I’m very proud of that. And while I was there, I developed debilitating adult asthma. So I started looking into our air quality issues, and I realized that Denton—the American Lung Association has given Denton an F-quality air. So I started researching the sources of air pollution, and then I came across fracking pretty quick.

People are very concerned. I attended a town hall meeting in Irving that was packed. Hundreds and hundreds of people poured out after feeling their homes shake. There’s injection wells near there. And people are very concerned and very upset.

In Denton alone, we have 300 gas wells in our city limits. They’re less than 250 feet from homes. Some of the neighborhood signs actually wrap around the walls that surround the frack wells. So this is really—you know, it’s near our hospitals, our schools, so forth.

Some of the companies that are operating there, one of them is Vantage. One of them is EagleRidge. EagleRidge was caught dumping chemicals into Hickory Creek. Just a few weeks ago, Vantage had one of their wells explode just outside of a neighborhood. That fire went on for about seven hours. EagleRidge had a blowout near our airport. Homes were evacuated. That one, the blowout didn’t stop for 14 hours. And we found levels of benzene when we did air samples. So, these are some of the companies that are operating in our city.

Myra Crownover, our senator, Craig Estes, really disregarded their own constituents’ votes and voted for House Bill 40. The Texas Tribune does a wonderful job of laying out potential conflicts of interest, and they show, you know, how many of our politicians, including these two, are really oil-soaked and that they have direct investment in oil and gas and receive contributions, campaign contributions, from the oil and gas industry.

Amy Goodman – Tara, can you talk about your arrest on Monday? I mean, presumably, the police come from your area. The police shook your hand and then handcuffed you?

That’s right. They were thanking us for our community service as they were arresting us. And when we got to the station, they let us out on personal recognizance, you know, saying that we’re not a threat to the community. I think that they’re very sympathetic to the cause, because if you live in Denton, you’re aware of the effects of fracking in your daily life. So I hope that that sympathy continues as we move forward. But it was a very civil exchange.

I think that our residents are very interested in seeing the city, you know, uphold the vote of the people. And so, last night we packed a city council meeting and unanimously requested that they not be the ones to repeal the ban themselves. So we’re looking at the best strategy moving forward. How can we fight House Bill 40? On a larger scale, how can we really tell—continue to tell our powerful narrative of a small Texas town standing up to a billion-dollar industry? It’s a real David-and-Goliath story. On the ground, we’re continuing our education efforts.

SEE ALSO

The Frackettes – ‘The Death of Democracy’ — published on May 14, 2015 (4:48 min)

 

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