Oil and Gas

Texan mayor vows to defend fracking ban after vote

Frack fight in Texas town

There will be no more hydraulic fracturing in the city of Denton, Texas, if voters and the city's mayor have their way. This week, citizens approved a ban on the controversial technique that extracts oil and natural gas from the Barnett Shale formation on which the city sits.

It is the first town in the Lone Star State to outlaw the practice best known as fracking, which has led to a huge upswing in U.S. oil and gas production but has unsettled conservationists around the country.

"The noise, the nuisance, the light, and some of the smells and fumes just really provided the impetus for this movement to swell and explode," Denton Mayor Chris Watts said in an interview with CNBC's "Street Signs." He added that wells were being drilled and fractured about 180 to 200 feet from residential communities.

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From left, Topher Jones, of Denton, Texas, Edward Hartmann, of Dallas and Angie Holliday of Denton, hold a campaign sign outside city hall, in Denton, Texas, July 15, 2014.
Tony Gutierrez | AP Photo

So citizens who support fracking presented the city with a petition, which the mayor and city council denied. That led to the issue winding up on Tuesday's ballot. All told, 59 percent of voters approved the ban.

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However, the issue is far from over. Two lawsuits have already been filed against the city of Denton, and the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the General Land Office both allege the ballot initiative was unconstitutional.

Watts said it remains to be seen if other lawsuits will follow and vowed to defend the city's ordinance.

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"The citizens exercised their right of self-help through the Denton city charter," Watts said. "I've vowed then and even in my oath I'm vowed to uphold the ordinances and the charter of the city of Denton. So we will certainly be defending our ordinance," he added.

There are currently 27 active gas wells in Denton.

—CNBC's Stefanie Kratter contributed to this report.