Fracking only employs 0.2% of our workforce. And only 2% of the mineral wealth actually belongs to Denton families.
This gives the industry a bit of an image problem: they are not local, but they need to appear that way.
They had this problem for years during the rewrite of our ordinance. The only people who spoke in favor of fracking were paid and bussed in from Ft. Worth. At the epic July 15 public hearing, a small minority spoke against the ban. Most of them were out-of-towners. And you may have noticed at forums about the ban the opposition has yet to be represented by a local citizen. It’s always a hired gun hand picked by the industry.
The industry seems to be using their near-limitless financial resources to take a two-prong approach to this problem. First and most laughably, they’ve tried to flip the script and accuse Frack Free Denton of being run by Russians. Our Board is all local residents. Our volunteer army is all local.
Second, and most insidiously, they are trying to brand themselves local. We now know the oil-and-gas-friendly U.S. Chamber of Commerce flew to Denton to buy the Denton Chamber Board’s credibility to make it look like the Denton business community favors this industry. They tell lies about how great they are for Denton’s schools (while using a stock photo of kids from who knows where).
And now they are ILLEGALLY infringing on UNT’s trademark eagle — effectively stealing the local persona that they just don’t have.
In a recent mailer, the industry stooped to a new low by claiming that fracking is good for Denton’s children.
Today, a report was released showing benzene emissions from a frack site in Denton right next to homes and a playground. Here’s the cover of the report.
Chronic exposure to carcinogens is supposed to be good for kids?! What about the blowout hazards? The contamination of water? The smog-forming ozone emissions?
No, they say that all the money this makes for our schools is worth these health and safety costs.
The mailer notes that oil and gas contributed $1.26 billion to the Permanent School Fund last fiscal year. There are 304,000 active oil and gas wells in Texas. Clearly, oil wells will produce more revenue for this fund than natural gas wells – Denton doesn’t have oil wells. But let’s assume all wells produce the same returns. That would be $4,144 per well to this fund. That would mean Denton’s 281 gas wells contribute $1.16 million to the fund.
Now even after the ban, Denton’s gas wells will continue in production. Drilling, but not fracking, will still occur. It’s hard to say how that will all work out in the future. But let’s take an extreme scenario and assume that lost revenue from fracking after the ban will be equivalent to shutting down all of our wells. Again, that’s extreme and it won’t happen…but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt to help inflate their numbers.
So, assume we lose that $1.16 million contribution to the state fund annually. That fund pays out on its interest, which is about 10%. So, that’s $116,000. Now, that loss would be spread across the state’s 5 million school children. That amounts to an annual hit of 2 cents per student. The entire cost to DISD would be $540.
Ok, so on this mailer they are insinuating that toxic industrial sites near our homes and parks is worth 2 cents per student. For two cents, we should allow this uniquely toxic and secretive industry everywhere (when we regulate bakeries more stringently).
So that giant letter about the Permanent School Fund has nothing to do with the fracking ban.
If oil and gas is such a windfall for our schools, why does Texas rank 49th in the country on per-student spending? If this boom is such a big deal, why has state funding DECREASED over the past two years by $1,000 per-student? And did you know that the two leaders of the opposition to the ban make more from mineral wealth than our entire school district? You can look that up here.
Could it be that this isn’t really about our schools or our children at all? Might it be that this is about highly concentrated profits for the very few and the very powerful?
Ok, so they can’t lean on the Permanent School Fund. But they’ll say the fracking ban will cost DISD lost tax revenue. The flyer throws around a $28.6 million figure over ten years. What it doesn’t say is that this is buried in Appendix D of an industry report and is NOT what that report concludes about lost tax revenue from the ban. On the first page of that report in bold and underlined in red it states lost tax revenues would be $4.6 million over ten years.
Ok, so even if we want to swallow that number (which is obviously an exaggeration ginned up by their proprietary economic formula) it’s $460,000 a year or $17 per student. The current operating budget of DISD is $208 million and will grow to $340 million in ten years. So, let’s take about $265 million as the mean budget over the next ten years. Their own estimated costs of the fracking ban, then, amount to 0.17% of DISD’s budget.
We can even be more generous to them and include potential lost royalties to DISD from the ban. Those royalties are currently about $140,000 per year. Of course, after the ban those wells on school property will continue to produce. Let’ assume they decline by half over ten years. That’s a $70,000 loss. That’s 0.02% of the budget or $2.60 per student.
So, they want us to sell the health and safety of our children for about $20. We spend about $7,700 dollars per student. Wow, their contribution is so overwhelming.
But that’s not the full picture. You see, after we pass the ban, we can build homes rather than frack sites. Every acre devoted to homes rather than frack sites generates 4x the tax revenue for our schools.
On the down side, that means we are actually losing money for our schools as we allow our children to be exposed to toxins and hazards.
On the up side, it means that a frack free future will bring healthier children AND more money for our schools.
Benzene, a carcinogen, was present in Denton’s McKenna Park at levels exceeding TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits according to a new report, Project Playground, by ShaleTest.
From the press release:
Independent air tests at five separate playgrounds across the Barnett Shale have revealed hazardous chemicals associated with oil and gas development at all five. At three of the playgrounds, carcinogens were present at levels exceeding TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits.
Opposition to the ban on hydraulic fracturing in Denton is calling for “responsible drilling,” but Denton residents know from direct experience that is a “sham.”
More from the release:
In Denton, Texas, where voters will decide whether to ban fracking in the November election, fracking ban opponents claim that a vote against the ban is a vote for “responsible drilling”. The Denton playground, located in McKenna Park, is one of the playgrounds at which carcinogens were found in excess of TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits.
“The City of Denton promised us air monitoring. But we’d never have known about toxic benzene at McKenna Park violating the TCEQ long term exposure limit if it hadn’t been for independent testing,” said Denton Drilling Awareness Group president Cathy McMullen. She continued, “After years in pursuit of responsible drilling with industry, and state and City government, we now know from personal experience that responsible drilling is a sham. That’s why the only way Denton residents can protect their families is to vote for a ban on fracking in November.”
The fracking ban will bring greater health, safety, AND prosperity.
If you are a Denton taxpayer for a strong economy…if you want our schools to thrive…if you want our economy to grow…then vote FOR the ban!
We owe it all to an industry report
The natural gas industry has actually made the economic case against fracking. When they wrote a report about the fracking ban in the City of Denton, they wanted to show that it would be costly. But their own numbers betrayed them. They show two things:
Fracking is a miniscule part of Denton’s economy.
Fracking is economically far less productive than other land uses.
Fracking is a puny economic activity
The industry’s own figures show that fracking comprises just 0.2% of Denton’s economic activity (gross product), 0.5% of tax revenues, 0.25% of the workforce, and 0.17% of DISD’s budget. What they don’t show you is that Denton families get only 2% of the mineral wealth yet bear the costs for 100% of the pollution.
It’s no wonder that City Council member Kevin Roden wrote that the ban will have no perceivable negative impact on our local economy.
Fracking is an economically weak activity
It’s not just that fracking is small potatoes in the scheme of Denton’s economy. The industry’s own numbers are even more damning for them. They actually show that fracking is a very economically under-productive use of our land. Every acre devoted to fracking extracts an opportunity cost that means less money for our economy. Fracking means more pollution and less tax revenue for our roads and schools. By avoiding these opportunity costs, the fracking ban will bring significant measurable economic benefits.
Quantifying the benefits of the ban
The average acre of land in Denton generates over 2x as much economic activity as an acre of fracking. The average acre of homes in Denton generates over 4x as much tax revenue as an acre of fracking. There are some simple steps to compare the value of fracking to other land uses.
First, estimate fracking revenues per acre.
We’ll assume an average frack site of just 1 acre plus only a 200 foot buffer around each site for a total footprint of 3.8 acres per site.
From this city map, we can conservatively estimate there are130 frack sites in the city (that house 281 gas wells).
That makes a total of 494 acres of frack sites in Denton.
The industry report estimates annual gross product from fracking of $25 million.
That’s about $51,000/acre in gross product (economic activity).
The industry report estimates annual tax revenues from fracking of $510,000.
That’s about $1,000/acre in tax revenues.
Second, estimate other land use revenues per acre. For this, we can use the city’s new draft Comprehensive Plan.
Extrapolating from Texas’ gross product of $1.4 trillion, we can estimate the City of Denton’s gross product at $6.4 billion.
There are 60,899 acres in Denton, yielding $105,000/acre in gross product for the average acre of land.
To estimate tax revenues from homes, we assume an average of four $155,000 homes (the median price in Denton) on an acre.
At the city tax rate of 69cents/$100 valuation, that yields about $4,300/acre in tax revenues from residential development.
Do the same calculation with the average list price of homes now (about $210,000) and tax revenues go up to about $5,800/acre.
For commercial development it’s $9,600/acre.
And that’s being really generous
At every turn in this analysis, we make generous assumptions that give the industry the benefit of the doubt. We take their own numbers for granted, even though they used a proprietary methodology heavy on economic multipliers that doubtlessly exaggerated the economic benefits of fracking. Indeed, another analysis by this same group exaggereted economic impacts by three orders of magnitude. Hmmmm…they use proprietary chemicals and proprietary economic formulas…maybe they want to hide something from us? We don’t want to be secretive like them, that’s why we lay out our simple math above.
We also assumed a low number of frack sites and a low size for the average frack site and buffer – all of which inflates their economic returns per acre. For example, we estimated just one acre for a frack site, even though the industry average is 1.5 to 3.5 acres. If we take the still generous assumptions of 1.5 acres per site plus a 500 foot setback (our ordinance actually stipulates 1,200 feet), then fracking is actually 5x less economically productive than our estimates. That would mean homes generate 20x the tax revenues for schools and roads.
We only compared fracking to an average acre of land use in terms of gross product, even though 50% of our land area is devoted to the relatively lower yielding uses of agriculture and ‘undeveloped.’
We also left out the fact that homes appreciate in value over time, while frack sites depreciate in value. Indeed, in the long run, fracking saddles Denton with land that is forever blighted and devalued.
The Comprehensive Plan points out the many costs of fracking not factored into our analysis (see pp. 46-48): “future development…may incur unforeseen expenses…;” “Structures cannot be built over a plugged well…;” “future development potential is severely limited…;” “localized adverse effects which could make new development near [fracking sites] undesirable and unlikely…;” “compromise land use efficiency…;” “development of adjacent properties for residential and other protected uses is restricted…”
We also didn’t take into account the fact that fracking decreases nearby residential property values. And we didn’t factor in harder to quantify values that are nonetheless essential. For example, consider the economic benefits of cleaner air and water. Thousands of families won’t have to worry about chemical trespass near their homes – parents feeling safe in their homes: what’s that worth? Finally, Denton needs to attract a skilled workforce that can generate higher-paying jobs to propel our economy forward….are people going to want to live and work in a city with hazardous industrial zones near their new homes, schools, and parks?
You can declare your support for Denton’s health (public and economic) with our spiffy new yard signs.
Our crack yard sign team will be posting them around town where folks have requested them.
Want one of your very own? Email us at dentondag [at] gmail [dot] com with “yard sign please” in the subject header. Then just type your address in the body of the email. We’ll bring you one – easy as that!
The signs are free to you, but they’re not free to make. Please consider donating $5 or so to help us defray costs.
For nearly fifteen years, a blight has crept over our town. It started slowly in remote areas. But then it accelerated. Then it infected our neighborhoods. Our parks. Our schools.
For a long time, we were slumbering. We didn’t understand what was happening.
When we finally awoke to the dangers of fracking, it was too late to control it.
But we didn’t want to believe that. For four years (2009-13) we worked on local rules.
In some sense, we suspected it was a fool’s errand. After all, here was the only industry allowed in neighborhoods (not even bakeries get that leeway) and the only industry permitted to release non-disclosed toxins into the environment.
But still we pushed on. Maybe we can find a set of rules, we thought, that would permit fracking AND protect our health, safety, and well-being.
Though far from perfect, we got a fairly reasonable ordinance. Citizens compromised with industry members, who formed a majority on our advisory task force. The new ordinance set a 1,200 foot buffer between frack sites, homes, parks, hospitals, and schools.
The problem was that our rules don’t apply. Because state regulations favor the industry, we saw fracking less than 200 feet from homes AFTER we passed our ordinance.
The cows are already out of the barn. Those calling for “responsible” fracking know that our rules can’t control the industry. Their “responsible” is code for the status quo. There are 281 gas wells in the city limits. Over 10,000 acres are already permitted for fracking. All of it is vested under older laws that allow fracking less than 200 feet from homes.
The only responsible option they left us is the ban.
Now Denton is at a crossroads. We are writing a comprehensive plan. By 2030, our population will be doubled. Denton will build 37,000 new housing units in the gas patch with hundreds of acres already fracked and thousands more on tap.
What is the future of Denton? Without the ban: neighborhood industrialization. Less developable land and higher costs of development. Thousands more families unwittingly exposed to risks of blowouts. Easily another billion gallons of water contaminated forever. Further risks to our ground and surface water. More ozone, meaning Denton continues to have the worst air quality and highest rates of childhood asthma in the state. More chemical exposure. Denton families taking 2% of the profits in exchange for 100% of the pollution.
That’s the path they call “responsible.” Could that be because the two leaders of their group make more royalties than the entire Denton Independent School District? Our children get hazardous chemical emissions next to their schools in return for $20 per student. Meanwhile, they make off with $190,000 annually. Whose future is this all about?
Denton is in a unique situation. This isn’t about what’s right for other places. This is about our Denton. Our right to self-determination.
The ban will bring a new dawn for Denton. A new light is on our horizon – health, safety, community integrity, quality of life, protection of home values and property rights…
The guardians of the old ways want to scare us that the ban will cost Denton. Yet their own numbers show that in fact it is fracking that has been costing us all along. Every acre it claims means 4x less tax revenue for our schools and 2x less economic activity. And then we are saddled forever with land that cannot be developed. Worthless scars of the blight.
They wanted to block out the sun that is rising over Denton, but they only showed us just how bright it really is. Our future after the ban means more health AND more prosperity.
They are getting desperate. Calling us un-American. Suggesting that benzene isn’t really that bad after all.
Every time they try to block out the sun, it inches higher. It peeks over their hands and shines on more people. Those who have seen Denton’s new future are going door to door. They are hosting fundraisers. They are handing out flyers. They are ordering yard signs. They are wearing t-shirts and buttons. And they are going to vote.
They are spreading the light.
But the guardians of the old ways are powerful. Help us spread the light. If you can, donate online. If you can’t, then volunteer your time and your voice.
The future of Denton is ours to decide. Vote FOR the ban.
Dentonites need some facts about the air pollutants detected in their neighborhoods during fracking. Below are three examples
Razor Ranch Unit near McKenna Park:
The community near McKenna Park collected small donations and hired an environmental scientist to conduct several sets of air monitoring during fracking and flaring.
Note: When this air testing was conducted, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) used Effects Screening Levels (ESL) to determine exposure limits. Now they use the Air Monitoring Comparison Values (AMCV).
Benzene was detected on three different days at 4.81 ppbv, 16.2 ppbv, and 55.4 ppbv, all are exceedences of the long-term ESL exposure limit (Center for Disease Control says long-term is one year) and one exceeds the short-term limit (short-term is typically 15 – 30 minutes).
Benzene is a dangerous chemical and the World Health Organization says, “Benzene is carcinogenic to humans, and no safe level of exposure can be recommended.” But benzene was not the only chemical detected at McKenna Park. Eleven different chemicals were detected and 16 tentatively identified compounds where detected some over long-term/short-term detection limits.
The downwind sample detected 46 of the 84 hazardous air pollutants tested for, including benzene and ethylene dibromide, or EDB. Upwind, the sample detected 27 of 84 chemicals. Neither benzene nor EDB was detected upwind, state records showed.
Both benzene and EDB have been found to cause cancer, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Fracking at Vintage and Meadows of Hickory Creek:
Testing at the very tail-end of fracking and flowback detected benzene at 2 times the long-term TCEQ limit. Eagle Ridge was issued a Notice of Violation from the State for creating a nuisance situation when their air pollutants trespassed into neighborhood yards. This proves that even the State of Texas has deemed fracking a nuisance. You can read the violation HERE. You can read about the importance of the nuisance violation and how it factors into the taking claims being made by industry and the Denton Taxpayers for Blatty Blat HERE.
Co-exposures or why the above is so very important:
The latest research suggests that it could be the mix of chemicals rather than the concentration of a single chemical that is most important. A UT study found: Co-exposures of two chemicals at safe levels doubles chances of cancer. The UT researchers found that co-exposures of chemicals at low and safe levels creates a greater impact and can double the risk of cancer.
Also of note from the study:
“The majority of cancers are caused by environmental influences,” Singh said. “Only about 5 to 10 percent of cancers are due to genetic predisposition. Science has looked at these chemicals, such as arsenic, and tested them in a lab to find the amounts that may cause cancer. But that’s just a single chemical in a single test. In the real world, we are getting exposed to many chemicals at once.”
34:20 “The major problem is the mixture problem. And I can’t overemphasize how serious that is in trying to understand what’s going on… The presence of one agent can increase the toxicity of another agent by several fold.”
35:10 “The question is, how often do you see an interaction?”
More than 1% and less than 10% if you put 2 interacting chemicals together. “…if it’s 1% of the time and you’ve got the list [of chemicals] that I read to you before which is roughly 30 or 40 or 50 chemicals present, the chances that you won’t have an interaction are almost ZERO.”
Remember: gas is under pressure and all gas wells leak. We can see these leaks using a FLIR camera that makes the invisible emissions visible. There are many videos of leaking and venting wells in Denton. You can see some of those videos HERE.
This is testimony given at the Denton City Council hearing for the ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Patricia Andrews is a 23-year resident of Denton, Texas, a landowner and a mineral owner. She signed a lease and experienced fracking on her property.
The well was not profitable and it was noisy and destructive. Forcing contractual obligations for clean up took considerable effort. Worst of all, a perfectly healthy horse was found dead, five feet from a leak of fluids at the well site.
Plus 30% of our land area is permitted for fracking (that’s 10,000+ acres). Here’s an example of a plat near the Southridge neighborhood (211 acres).
Thanks to vested rights laws, all of this is governed by old rules. And the old rules say you can frack less than 200 feet from protected uses. To be clear: fracking is permitted less than 200 feet from homes, schools, and parks. And there is nothing we can do about it short of the ban. The industry wants “responsible” fracking. We tried that. For years, we worked for a reasonable set of rules. But it was too late.
Here’s an illustration. AFTER passing an ordinance that stipulates a 1,200 foot setback. Fracking happened in this neighborhood less than 200 feet from homes. Why? Because our reasonable rules do not apply! They don’t apply to our 281 gas wells and 10,000+ acres already in place and permitted.
The cows are already out of the barn. No regulations can solve that problem. And the industry knows it. They’ve said they can frack as many wells” as they want “in perpetuity.” The only reasonable option the industry left for us is the ban. It’s the only way to protect our health and safety.
That’s enough industrialization of our neighborhoods. Vote FOR the Ban.
Here was a blowout that happened in Denton last year.
Nearby homes were evacuated. 1,200 pounds of VOCs (a class of chemicals, some of which are cancer-causing) were released. 4,100 gallons of hydrochloric acid. 5,700 gallons of “proprietary and non-disclosed ingredients.” (Not even first responders know what the chemicals are.)
Toxic chemicals gushing out of the ground for 14 hours. That could happen at any of our 281 gas wells, which can all be re-fracked. That can happen right next to kids’ bedrooms. We don’t even let bakeries in neighborhoods. Why this?!
One blowout is enough. Vote FOR the Ban.
The cancer-causing chemical benzene was detected at these sites in Denton, both right next to homes. One right next to a park and a hospital. Moms and dads report children with headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties, and nosebleeds.
Our families have suffered enough. Vote FOR the Ban.
Each fracked well contaminates 6 million gallons of water forever. For Denton, that’s over 1 billion gallons of our precious freshwater and counting.
That’s enough wasted water. Vote FOR the Ban.
Recent science shows that areas with fracking have much higher concentrations of smog-forming and asthma-worsening ozone than areas without fracking.
That’s enough air pollution. Vote FOR the Ban.
Recently, arsenic and fracking chemicals were found in groundwater wells around our area. The chemicals were not there before fracking and they were not in areas without fracking.
That’s enough water pollution. Vote FOR the Ban.
The industry’s own numbers show that fracking constitutes a measly 0.2% of our economy, 0.25% of our workforce, and 0.5% of our tax revenue. Meanwhile, Denton residents get just 2% of the royalties but 100% of the pollution. More damning for the industry, their own numbers also show that every acre devoted to residential development generates 4x as much tax revenue for our roads and schools than an acre of fracking. An average acre of land in Denton generates 2x as much economic activity as an acre of fracking. And fracking leaves behind land that is forever blighted and devalued.
That’s enough wasted economic opportunity. Vote FOR the Ban.
The industry even has the gall to suggest that Denton is not doing her part for American energy independence. Denton!? Did you see the maps of how much fracking happens here? If you crammed all of Texas’ gas wells into the 7% of its land area that is urban, Denton would still have 3x as many wells as the average city in that extreme scenario. We have done far more than our fair share. And we will continue to do so with 281 gas wells still producing after the ban.
We are doing more than enough. Vote FOR the Ban.
Clutching at their last straw, the industry now resorts to personal attacks and scare mongering. They call us terrorists. They accuse us (McCarthy style) of being un-American. They threaten us with lawsuits. But they know that the ban is perfectly legal and less restrictive than other valid ordinances in Texas.
That’s enough hate and enough fear. Vote FOR the Ban.
It’s our air and water. It’s our health and safety. It’s a new dawn for OUR DENTON!