FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The head of the agency that regulates the oil and gas industry in Texas is asking officials of Denton in North Texas to withhold support from a grass-roots petition advocating a ban on hydraulic fracturing within the city limits.
The university town sits on the Barnett Shale, believed to hold one of the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S.
Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, called the measure "essentially a ban on drilling" that is "extremely misguided," in a letter Thursday addressed to Denton Mayor Chris Watts and the City Council.
"If other cities were to follow your lead, then we could potentially, one day, see a ban on drilling" in Texas, Smitherman wrote.
City leaders temporarily halted fracking as they consider making their city the first in the state to permanently ban the practice.
The temporary ban does not apply to the 275 currently active gas wells in Denton, and likewise, a permanent ban would only prevent any additional fracking from taking place, the petition's organizers have said.