So, we have an improved but still unsatisfactory ordinance. I have tried to explain why I think we didn’t do better – lots of reasons, but most importantly legal limitations that require persistence to overcome. The question is how best to channel our energies and talents.
1. Citizen initiative. Denton has a process whereby the electorate can propose an ordinance. This direct democracy approach is one option if the sense is that representative democracy has failed. It will take money for legal advice, lots of work to draft the appropriate language (what would the substance of the ordinance be?), and boots on the ground to get signatures and votes.
2. Continue to work with the City. An alternative is to work with Staff and Council on key items that we think need to be improved. I would propose pushing the compressor station issue, the zone-fracking-industrial-use strategy, and pits. I also think we need to work with the City to make sure they develop a robust air and water monitoring program.
3. Get involved at the State level. No matter what we do at the City level, we need to consider regional and Texas-wide action. This can mean endorsing or opposing pending legislation dealing with oil and gas development. It can also mean initiating a resolution to share with our State representatives asking them to stand up for local control. Home rule municipalities should have greater say over this industrial practice – city leaders are more directly accountable to their constituents and act on a weekly basis, which means they can respond more swiftly to citizen concerns.