Fracked in Denton

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.

ptI think the ordinance that Planning and Zoning recommended to City Council is on the right path, and I hope Council will further strengthen it.

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.


18 thoughts on “Fracked in Denton

  1. DAG, Earthworks, EarthJustice and the City of Denton are cowards, liars and frauds! I warned you about what would happen if you enacted a ban. Gary Hogan warned you about what would happen if you enacted a ban. Others gave you the same warning. You did not listen to us. Instead, you followed people who have lost every battle they ever fought, and they led you into fighting for a ban. Then, when HB 40 was passed you all ran like cowards rather than fighting in court to win the day and overturn HB 40.

    You lied to those who followed you, and you continue to lie to them. I am ashamed to say that I ever worked with you. Instead of being leaders you acted like children. Now, most of those who followed you despise all of you who led the fight for the ban more than they despise the oil and gas industry, and for good reason. We always knew that the industry was our adversary, but we trusted you to be our allies. You failed your citizens, you abandoned them, you stabbed them in the back after they devoted countless hours of effort and a lot of money to the cause you told them was “the only recourse left”, and then you led the retreat to a repeal. Now, you are telling Denton that the best course is a reversal of your ordinance to setbacks that you always claimed were inadequate to protect people and property.

    “Philosopher?” Hardly! You are a coward and a quitter! Nobody will follow you again because you are not trustworthy, and neither are any of the organizations that jointly led Denton into passing the ban. You may be a good professor, but you are NOT a leader of people because a leader does not cut and run. We have a court system to challenge what we perceive as wrongs done to us, but you people are afraid to take your case to court.

    What a bunch of losers!

  2. And sometimes people are dogmatic, inflexible, close-minded, and unnecessarily harsh, which they misdescribe in terms of truth-telling.

  3. You are so right, and Adam did a great job of doing that very thing in his self-serving rationalization of why he and others so cowardly ran away after telling everybody to follow them.

    If you do not like hearing the truth, then that is on you, but I guarantee you that the vast majority of those who were led by DAG/FFD would never again follow those who led that effort because they feel used, betrayed and abandoned. I am merely reflecting what others are telling me. It’s too bad that you want to deny others the right to express their opinions, or take them to task for doing so. Try reading the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and if you do not understand it, then get somebody to explain it to you.

  4. Same old Marc McCord. Nothing new but a bad temper and inflated self of self, from my point of personal experience. But then, I’m “just a stupid (I forget the exact word) old woman” – quoting Marc, to disagree with him.

  5. I agree with Marc.” Polishing turds” is the essence of quitting. You can’t spin capitulation and surrender into true courage and fight. Just because Marc expresses himself from other than a milquetoast and vapid point of view doesn’t mean he is just coming from anger and therefor can be written off.

  6. Wow, Marc, that was over the top mean spirited and totally uncalled for. As if somehow everything that happened is Adam’s fault. Last I checked, it costs money to have a legal battle, and to go up against industry with deep pockets, this would be seriously costly-and a battle the city wouldn’t likely win anyway. The Industry Sock Puppets are already publicizing the money spent already. While I believe it was money well spent, no one could have predicted HB40 coming. It would be beyond stupid and play right into Industry’s hands to spend even more money. As you well know, they have lots of money and political power on their side. They can drag this kind of thing out for years, and cause the City to go bankrupt in the process. EnergyInDepth and the like are already playing to people’s emotions on the ‘tax dollars wasted’ on the enacting the ban. I can only imagine the field day they’d have watching us drive ourselves off the financial cliff of disaster.

    I, too, was initially against repealing the ban. I thought they should keep fighting. Then I read through all the options, and what would likely happen, and realized that in order to best fight against HB40, repealing the ban really was the best move.

    Retreating is not cowardice, and certainly is not surrender. This is going to be a very long fight in a longer war.

    I only have so much time to give, money to give and expertise to offer. I don’t have to agree with every move, every opinion, every strategy in order to help support my friends in Denton when and where I can, but I’m not going to beat them up about it.

    Nothing more Industry and their Fan Clubs like to see and take great relish in, is their foes waging war on each other. While we’re doing that, they are fracking away full speed ahead.

  7. Actually polishing turds is not quit. Quitting would be just throwing our hands up, walking away, and not having any ordinance…under that situation fracking could occur without any protections greater than the 100 feet mandated by the international fire code. We are a long way from that, so I fail to see how this is quitting. Another word for polishing turds is policy making. It can be done better or worse. Let’s put our ideas into this, have some cunning, offer some improvements. To me that’s the hard work of citizenship – not quitting.

  8. I dislike the 750 ft ordinance and thr reverse ordinance of 225 (250?). We voted for a ban; we should push the setbacks to the absolute limits of what other cities are doing. Why not do 1500 ft setbacks, 1200 ft and make the reverse setback the same? No one wants to live in the middle of gas wells and saying that people should be given the right to choose this (as surface owners) like what was said at the P&Z meeting doesn’t make sense. People have no idea what a situation is like until they actually experience it. No one wants to live in the midst of lights, truck traffic, deadly toxins spewed into the air. Why do we as a community allow this to happen at all when we have an opportunity to truly create better setbacks. This is our town and this fight is about getting to decide what type of environment we want to live in. Do we want to live in a toxic industrial environment? Do we want to have representatives who don’t represent the will of the community? No. We don’t. And yet we squander opportunities left and right and for what? For what purpose? I don’t understand what happened at the P&Z meeting. I don’t understand where this coalition is? Do I appreciate the effort that everyone has put into ths past and present? Absolutely yes! I simply don’t like the direction this is headed and think that the people of Denton need to remember our own power again. Yes, please continue the fight because you are awesome at it, but let’s also continue to be bold at home. We shouldn’t allow an industry to poison us. And that’s what’s happening; they are killing us slowly by poisoning our air that we breathe and our water that we drink. This shoudn’t be allowed and we shouldn’t let it happen under any circumstances. Strategic sounds good with a broader and longer-term initiative, but P&Z at home is short-term and should represent the wishes of the greater community.

  9. P&Z should have left the setback at 1000′ because that setback meets the requirements of HB40 as commercially reasonable. This means that Denton will need to turn out en masse and pressure the council to reinstate the 1000′ setback. This won’t be easy because Joey Hawkins and Greg Johnson both care more about big business than they do health and safety.

    Neither a 1500′ nor a 1200′ setback will work because of HB40. Industry would surely challenge either setback and this would not be a good case for a challenge to HB40. A 1000′ setback might be a good case to challenge HB40. This is strategy.

  10. Interesting perspective Marc.

    I received an email from you earlier in the week announcing that your organization is partnering with Food & Water Watch to work on a long term strategy to defeat HB40. Is trashing other groups and personal attacks part of the official Food & Water Watch messaging for that strategy?

  11. A compromise after the fracking ban vs current setbacks would look more like 1200-1500 ft. After arguments from industry, we would probably fall back to 1000 ft. again. That’s strategy.

  12. Present that strategy to a city that still has lawsuits and see how far it goes. The city was in Austin and heard industry and legislators announce that they were coming after the Dallas and Flower Mound setbacks. There is always strategy but it might not be winnable. Right now, what is most needed is a situation that creates a win against HB40.

  13. Unfortunately, starting out low likely risks that the end result will be shorter setbacks than what’s desired and people will call it a “compromise”.

    I think part of the problem is since we’ve stopped having larger meetings via frack free, you guys have gotten stuck in your own echo chamber and are starting to become out of touch with what the people of Denton desire. There is a whole group of people out there who don’t want to get involved with the direct action of the movement but who voted and feel their voices have been quashed by our own city and the very groups we created to give citizens a voice. This isn’t meant to upset anyone, but it’s he truth and I think we need to get back in touch with the people and having meetings again and communicating again. Disagreement is necessary for a democracy to function properly. We need to have these adult conversations again.

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