Monday, October 22, 2012

Protecting the ETJ

The new draft ordinance makes it very clear that most of its regulations do not apply to the ETJ. This is because of a common reading of Texas law that limits the power of municipalities to govern their ETJs via zoning. Thus, our ordinance states that drilling can happen in the ETJ by right and many of the sections begin with the caveat "the provisions of this section shall apply within the corporate limits of the City of Denton." This includes sections that spell out separation standards, safety and environmental requirements, and equipment standards.

If you believe that such standards are important for protecting health, safety, and welfare, then the fact that they will not apply in the ETJ is troubling. It means that someone in the ETJ could have a well closer to their home AND have that operation follow rules that are far more lax.

Now, I am open to debating the merits of this argument about environmental justice.

The problem is that we are not even having the argument, because we presume that we cannot regulate the ETJ.

That may not be true.

The Town of Dish just passed this ordinance, which applies the same regulations to the ETJ as within the territorial limits of the town.

(Note: It also applies to all pre-existing wells and it revokes the permit in case of any violations.)

So, looks like it may be feasible. Let's at least have the discussion.

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