2014 Archives

Texas college town fracking ban a bad sign for U.S. boom


The following is from the Nov. 5, 2014, edition of Bloomberg Business Week. Bruce Bullock, director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, provided expertise for this story.

November 19, 2014

By Bradley Olson and Jim Polson

A small college town near the birthplace of the U.S. fracking boom voted yesterday to ban the practice in a day of mixed results across the country for an industry already grappling with falling oil prices.

The 59 percent of voters in Denton, Texas, who rejected the controversial drilling technique yesterday sent a message to the energy world every bit as powerful as the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate: when it comes to the U.S. energy boom, all politics is local. And so far at the ballot box, the industry has lost more than it’s won.

While the Denton vote may serve as a bellwether for the potential of activism to slow fracking, the picture nationally was more measured. Two California counties approved bans and one in the state rejected any restrictions. One Ohio ban proposal was approved and three were voted down. 

As the shale boom encroaches on urban areas, residents in communities near drilling operations are growing more resentful of the heavy truck traffic, noise and pollution associated with the work.

“There’s no question that it’s a threat,” Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said of the backlash. Activists opposed to oil and gas development who failed to beat back fracking at the state and federal level “have largely turned their efforts to local communities.” 

Read the full story.

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