Trail Blazers Blog

Industry spending big to keep fracking ban out of Denton

Oil and gas industry money keeps stacking up against a measure to ban hydraulic fracturing—the process of blasting chemicals and water deep into the ground to release oil and gas—in North Texas.

(Jim Tuttle/The Dallas Morning News)
Signs promoting opposing views on Denton's proposed fracking ban are on display outside the Denton County Elections Office in Denton, Texas on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014.

According to the latest round of campaign finance reports, energy companies contributed more than $460,000 between Sept. 26 and Oct. 25. That’s on top of the $225,000 industry previously gave “Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy,” the leading group opposed to the ban.

The Denton Record-Chronicle reports that it’s the most expensive campaign in the city’s history. In all, more than $770,000 has been raised by groups opposing and supporting the ban.

If voters approve the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot, Denton would be the first city in Texas—the state that leads in oil and gas production—to ban fracking. The ban has put the city at the center of a noisy debate over the safety of fracking, the economic benefit of industry and the power cities have to regulate the activity.

In the latest finance reports, major oil and gas companies such as Chevron, Enervest and XTO poured thousands of dollars into the group “Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy.” While the group did have more donations from individuals than it did in the previous filing period, industry contributions still accounted for more than 98 percent of the $466,000 total. A handful of the near 60 individual supporters listed their residence in Denton.

Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy has spent more than $340,000 in the last month on the campaign, including $142,000 for television ads.

Pass the Ban, also known as Frack Free Denton, the group supporting the ban, banked about $24,000 in the same period. The biggest donation came from Earthworks, an environmental group in DC, which donated more than $10,000 in in-kind contributions for postage and mailers. Earlier this month, a Earthworks spokesman said that more than 90 percent of the money for the in-kind contributions came from Denton donors.

The Denton Drilling Awareness Group, the previous name for the proponent group, gave $6,000 of its leftover campaign money to Pass the Ban. About two dozen other individuals—most listing their residence in Denton—contributed the remaining money.

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