Monday, September 14, 2015

Texas District Court Dismisses Challenge of Denton’s Hydraulic Fracturing Ban

On September 4, 2015, the 16th Judicial District Court of Denton County dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Texas Oil and Gas Association against the City of Denton challenging the City Council’s Ordinance No. 2014-01 establishing a hydraulic fracturing ban.

In November 2014, residents of Denton approved a ballot initiative to ban hydraulic fracturing within the city’s limits. The Texas Oil and Gas Association and Texas General Land Office separately filed lawsuits seeking a declaration that the hydraulic fracturing ban was preempted by existing state regulations.

As a response to the City of Denton’s initiative, the Texas House of Representatives introduced H.B. 40 “relating to the exclusive jurisdiction of [Texas] to regulate oil and gas operations in this state and the express preemption of local regulation of those operations” in March 2015. H.B. 40 was signed into law on May 18, 2015, and took effect immediately. After the new law became effective, the Denton City Council repealed the hydraulic fracturing ban ordinance in June 2015. Therefore, the parties to the lawsuits filed joint motions to dismiss the lawsuits due to the irrelevance of the legal matters.

According to the City of Denton’s statement, “[i]t is anticipated that a dismissal order in the [Texas General Land Office] will also be signed in the near future.”

Further information about the case Texas Oil and Gas Association v. City of Denton is available at docket no. 14-08933-431, and for the case Texas General Land Office v. City of Denton at docket no. 15-02058-362. 

Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow

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