Denton Neighborhoods Become a Nightmare Due to Fracking
A battle royale is brewing in a Texas town between residents who want to ban fracking because of its harmful effects on health and factions concerned about the economic impact that would ensue from a ban. This is a fight to watch.
Denton, a North Texas community that is home to one of the largest natural gas reserves in the country, could become the first city in the state to ban hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking. This practice involves pumping large quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals into rock to release natural gas trapped underground. While the industry has used the procedure for decades, it is now done on a larger scale and conducted in locations much closer to major population areas.
Currently, Denton has a city ordinance that prohibits the construction of new wells within 1,200 feet of homes. The problem is that this doesn’t apply to existing wells, which are allowed to undergo fracking at any time, some reportedly in spots much closer to residences.
In April, a gas blowout occurred that forced the evacuation of homes and caused the diversion of flights from Denton Municipal Airport. Air tests following the explosion detected 46 hazardous chemicals in the environment.
Aljazeera America relays the comments of Maile Bush, a resident in the fracking area who says her dream home has become a nightmare. She lives in a state of terror because she believes her home and the health of her family is in danger. Her family’s litany of health complaints includes headaches, nosebleeds and coughing fits.
Citizens Petition City Council to Ban Fracking
Bush is by no means alone in her fear of fracking. Citizens of Denton have led the effort to attempt to put the brakes on this gas industry practice that poses risks to public health and the environment. The Denton Drilling Awareness Group collected 2,000 signatures on a petition calling for a fracking ban.
Once the Denton City Council received the petition, they called for a special session where they could hear from residents on the issue. After listening to eight hours of emotional pleas from a roomful of attendants who expressed their vehement opposition to fracking, the council voted 5 to 2 against the ban. Because of this decision, voters will decide the issue in a November ballot.
How Does Fracking Affect Health?
The quality of the air you breathe and the water you drink has a profound impact upon your health. According to the Alliance for Natural Health USA, the chemicals released from fracking pollute the air and contaminate the water supply, which leads to devastating health consequences. The alliance provides a list of the following chemicals associated with the practice and their effects on health.
- Low levels of volatile organic compounds, such as toluene, benzene, xylene and ethylbenzene, can cause rapid heart rate, tremors, headaches, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness and unconsciousness. High concentrations can lead to leukemia and death.
- Barium can cause swelling of the brain, breathing problems, high blood pressure, muscle weakness and kidney damage.
- Radium can cause cancer.
- Strontium can interfere with bone development and may cause cancer.
Factors That May Play a Role in Fracking Regulations
Why did the Denton city council vote against the ban after hearing how fracking has affected the wellbeing of area residents? One of the factors may have been the fear of lawsuits. In Texas, homeowners don’t own the mineral rights to the oil and gas beneath their homes. Consequently, a ban on fracking would result in financial loss to mineral rights owners, as it would make the affected mineral estates worthless. A city council member expressed his concern that people who owned the mineral rights would sue Denton for the value of their losses, a scenario that would bankrupt the city treasury.
Aside from the issue of mineral rights, another factor affecting fracking bans is the tug-of-war between state and town rights. After voters in a Colorado town approved a ban on fracking, a judge overturned it, stating that only state governments had the power to make those decisions. As Jeff Gaba, an environmental law specialist in Dallas tells Aljazeera America, the ruling raises some troubling questions. “How much responsibility, how much authority do you have to control what’s going on in your own neighborhood? How much should we turn over responsibility for regulating this to the state, which may have different concerns and different pressures on it,” he says.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.