State agency to continue drill permits in Denton

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The chairwoman of a state agency that regulates oil and gas in Texas said she’s disappointed that Denton residents passed a measure to ban further hydraulic fracturing.

Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick made the comments at a Thursday event sponsored by the Texas Tribune. She said she’ll continue issuing permits to companies that seek to drill in the north Texas city, The Dallas Morning News reported.

“It’s my job to give permits, not Denton’s.We’re going to continue permitting up there because that’s my job,” she said.

Tuesday’s vote in Denton, which sits atop a large natural gas reserve, made it the first Texas city to pass such a ban. The gas fields under it have produced $1 billion in mineral wealth and pumped more than $30 million into city bank accounts. Industry groups have warned the ban could hurt Denton’s economy.

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Vice President Adam Briggle of the nonprofit Denton Drilling Awareness Group said the ban’s passage should have prompted the commission to “adopt a more conciliatory tone” and consider why residents are opposed to drilling.

Fracking involves blasting a mix of water, sand and chemicals deep into underground rock formations to released trapped oil and gas. Opponents of fracking say it pollutes air and drinking water, while oil and gas organizations say it’s cleaner than other forms of energy extraction.

An industry group and the state’s General Land Office are seeking an injunction in District Court to stop the ban from being enforced.

City spokeswoman Lindsey Baker said earlier in the week that the city has as much as $4 million in a risk fund to combat legal challenges.