Anti-fracking activists in Denton, Texas are committed to banning natural gas use in the town after the state’s legislature overturned a fracking ban passed by voters in 2015.
Environmentalists argue the methane from Denton’s proposed $265 million natural gas-fired plant is just as bad as carbon emissions from coal, and add the amount of tax revenue and benefits derived from fracking are irrelevant. They just want to end the fossil fuel industry.
“The time has come to stop making investments in fossil fuels,” one Denton activist told the city council in June.
Another citizen, Hale Baskins, submitted a letter to the city council the plant. “It paints a picture of money interest coming before citizens’ interests,” said Baskins, who organized a protest on “Clean Air Action” on the doorsteps of City Hall.
Proponents of the town’s Renewable Denton Plan argue the plan will help Denton move away from fossil fuels like coal and toward renewable forms of energy.
Denton’s proposed power plant is sold as one of the cleanest facilities in the country.
“The Renewable Denton Plan represents the most economical way to procure power for Denton,” Denton Municipal Electric spokesperson Brian Daskam told reporters.
He cited research by the Brattle Group, a consulting firm that the city hired, showing that switching to natural gas from coal could save taxpayers more than $975 million over the next two decades and reduces rates by 2019.
Denton voters passed a ballot initiative in 2014 banning the use of fracking, which was later overturned by the state’s legislature in 2015. Those pushing the initiative received the required signatures to put a town-wide fracking ban to a vote.
“They threw everything at us, but the harder they worked to turn it into a knock-down political fight, the more it turned against them,” Adam Briggle, an environmental studies professor at University of North Texas, told reporters in the ramp up to the vote.
Recent reports indicate that methane emissions have actually dropped despite the influx of natural gas wells in the U.S., ostensibly eating into the efficacy of anti-fracking activists’ arguments.
A report in May from pro-energy group Energy In Depth (EID), which cited 75 scientific studies and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), showed that methane emissions are declining in both absolute terms and per unit of gas produced. Methane emissions cause nearly 25 times more global warming per unit of gas than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a time period of 100 years, according to the EPA.
The scientific studies EID cited were published over the last five years by the firm ICF International. Emissions from natural gas fell by 15 percent between 1990 and 2014, and emissions per unit of natural gas produced dropped by 43 percent over the same period.
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