Friday, January 11, 2013

Frack the Poor?

You shouldn’t have to be rich to afford the best protections from fracking. But that is how things are on the Barnett. Flower Mound and Southlake have the strongest ordinances for their citizens. The median household income in Flower Mound is $126,000 and in Southlake it is $173,000. The median household income in Denton is $47,000.
Is that why Denton is about to allow compressor stations anywhere and allow venting and flaring next to homes and schools? Why Denton will not require air and water quality monitoring or a leak detection and compliance plan or a waste management plan? Why Denton will allow property owners to reduce setbacks from wells to as little as 250 feet without the consent of renters living on that property? Why Denton will not raise the setback distance to 1,500 feet? Why there has been no serious discussion of zoning fracking as an industrial use as part of a broader vision for our City?
No, certainly not, we are told. We are told that it’s not that we don’t deserve the same protections as the affluent. Rather, we are told that we can’t afford to take the same risks. The ordinance we have now is the best we can do. Anything stronger, and we will be sued. And given that Denton doesn’t have deep pockets, we must be cautious.

But the ordinances of Flower Mound and Southlake have blazed a trail, making our trek less risky. Their residents had to reach into their own pockets to pay for the best protections. That shouldn’t be necessary anymore now that they have shown the way. Southlake in particular has a model ordinance. There is nothing unconstitutional about it – it simply requires that a heavy industrial practice be subjected to appropriate plans, standards, and rules before it can take place in an urban setting.
I have heard several City Council members say that they want the strongest possible ordinance. Well, if that is the case, we could have wrapped this up months ago. Take Southlake as the gold standard and adapt their rules for Denton. Now that is a cautious strategy. So tell me again, why is it we don't deserve the same protections?

1 comment:

  1. Neither city has as much open land as Denton. Would you like it if your family owned land that suddenly couldn't be developed because a city that you don't live in passed a rule?