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Dallas suburb lawmakers reject fracking ban, send measure to voters

DENTON, Texas -- A Dallas suburb rejected a measure on Wednesday to ban new hydraulic fracturing -- a move that would have made it the first city in Texas and one of the largest in the United States to halt the method of energy resource extraction.

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The 5-2 vote by the Denton City Council sends the proposal to voters, who in November will decide whether to impose the ban on any new projects for the drilling method known as fracking.

Denton, about 30 miles north of Dallas, sits atop the Barnett Shale, a major natural gas reservoir.

Fracking involves high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into underground rock formations to release oil and gas deposits. Worries have been raised that it can pollute underground water stocks and cause seismic activity.

Fracking near homes, schools and businesses as well as health and safety concerns prompted a petition drive by Denton residents to prevent future fracking in the city, which already has more than 275 wells.

The petition with about 2,000 signatures led to the city council to halt new fracking permits until September.

Industry officials and one state regulator appealed to the council to reject the temporary ban, which they said would hurt Denton's economy and lead to lawsuits.

According to the environmental advocacy group Keep Tap Water Safe, a handful of areas in several U.S. states have banned fracking, including Canandaigua, New York, New Mexico's Mora County, and Hawaii County in Hawaii.