Grow Strong AND Healthy

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!

comparative cost for blog

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:

  1. Fracking is a miniscule part of Denton’s economy.
  2. 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?

Vote FOR the Ban

We already knew that fracking industrializes our neighborhoods, wastes and pollutes our water, and fouls our air.

Now we know it’s undermining our economy too.

It’s a win-win. Vote FOR the Ban!