If Denton was a soup, frack sites would be the turds. I mean, you know, the turds in the soup.
For many years, the conversation in Denton was about how to put turds in the soup. But then we learned more and we pulled together and we changed the conversation to be about whether to put turds in our soup at all. We talked it over and decided, “Actually, that’s not safe and healthy.” So we banned fracking.
Then HB 40 happened. Now we are forced back to the question of just how, precisely, to put turds in our soup. Should they be all in a bunch? Spread out? How far should they be from other things in the soup? How closely do we watch them? How do we let the other things in the soup know about the turds and their penchant for catching on fire, emitting toxic fumes, and causing a general nuisance?
This obviously isn’t a sane way to frame a policy conversation. And it’s all come about because smug corporate corruption has overruled democracy.
But it is the situation we are in now until HB 40 is killed.
That will take a while. So, what do we do in the meantime? It seems to me that we need the smartest and toughest ordinance possible under the terms of the existing legal regime. Of course, what that looks like exactly is hard to say. It will probably look different for different cities.
With the moratorium soon to expire, it is imperative that we put a new ordinance in place. The alternative is to revert to a previous ordinance, which is non-compliant with HB 40 and was, as we all know, largely unenforceable to begin with.
The ordinance now under consideration is the product of long hours of hard work by very intelligent Dentonites. They have spent many a meeting vigorously polishing turds, which will doubtlessly get even shinier over the coming weeks through the use of yet more elbow grease. (This, by the way, is why it costs far more to write rules to accommodate fracking than it does to prohibit it, which is not to mention the wider economic gains of a ban.)
Though the result will not and cannot be our democratically-won ban, it will likely be an improvement over our previous ordinances. And of course it will remain a living document open to whatever revisions we might be able to muster from within the plutocratic headlock currently applied by Austin.
There seems to be some consternation lobbed at Planning and Zoning Commission members. I suppose that’s just politics. But it does strike me as misplaced anger. Our city staff, appointed, and elected officials are now working within the (ambiguous, sure, but nonetheless) severe constraints of HB 40. ‘Perfect’ isn’t an option for them. They are trying to arrange turds in soup, after all. Better, I think, to direct frustration at those who have forced us once again to cook up this foul recipe.