City to consider gas drilling moratorium
January 19, 2012 by Managing-Editor
Filed under News
By Ann Smajstrla / Senior Staff Writer
The Denton City Council will soon vote on a moratorium that would temporarily halt the distribution of gas drilling permits until a new gas drilling ordinance can be enacted.
The earliest the moratorium could be voted on is Feb. 7 at the next city council meeting. Should the moratorium pass, it would last as long as it would take for a new ordinance to be written, and would be effective immediately.
Denton City Council members Kevin Roden, Jim Engelbrecht, Chris Watts and Dalton Gregory expressed support for the moratorium at the Jan. 10 city council meeting. Roden said the moratorium will be an agenda item at the council's all-day retreat Jan. 31.
"The idea is simply to say, as a city, we're trying to put up some new regulations and new rules, so it is prudent in the meantime to go ahead and put a temporary ban until we get a chance to put our new rules in place," Roden said.
Roden said the moratorium was suggested by members of the Denton Stakeholder Drilling Advisory Group (DAG) and was put forth at the end of the last city council meeting on Jan. 10.
"The existing [gas drilling] ordinance is too lax on regulations and is not doing enough to protect people," Adam Briggle, DAG chairman and UNT assistant professor, said. "The big picture is whatever it takes to make [the gas drilling ordinance] consistent with safety, health and well-being."
In Denton, natural gas is currently extracted through the ground through hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."
"Fracking is too dangerous to permit anywhere," Clinton McBride, an international studies junior, said. "The EPA and state agencies have found chemicals, neurotoxins, carcinogens and radioactive elements in streams, lakes, rivers, aquifers, drinking water, in the air, in the soil, in animals, in people, all from fracking."
DAG formed to research the current state of gas drilling in Denton, and to find whether fracking could be perfected or made safer, Briggle said.
The eight members of DAG conducted individual research, collaborated with each other and held public meetings. DAG ultimately suggested a moratorium first and also gave suggestions for safer drilling methods should a moratorium not be approved.