This opinion piece presents the opinions of the author.
The good citizens of Denton will be voting on Nov. 4 whether or not to ban hydraulic fracturing.
They have been told by former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips the ban on fracturing is unconstitutional. “Under the Texas Constitution, I do not believe that a municipality may ban all oil and gas drilling within its borders,” former Chief Justice Phillips said during a hearing before the Denton City Council on July 15.
He said the ban is incompatible with state law, and it amounts to a government taking of private property of many mineral interest owners and operators. All of this could lead to years of litigation with the city of Denton strapped with the cost of defending an unconstitutional act and government taking of private proper without just compensation.
Already there has been one lawsuit filed against the city and the ban hasn’t even been approved yet. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Arsenal Minerals and Royalty and the Chandler Davis Trust, states that the city enacted drilling moratoriums in 2012 that have “compromised legal relationships and private contracts.”
In summary, the former chief justice’s said the (1) the ban is unconstitutional, (2) the ban is incompatible with state law (3) the city clearly would be taking private property, and (4) Denton would have to spend millions of dollars defending lawsuits brought by its very own citizens in many cases.
OK, so let’s say that the former chief justice got it wrong on all four issues. What other reasons could there be to vote against the ban?
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