Barnett Shale gas operators encounter opposition to hydraulic fracturing

Environmental groups, anti-fracking activists, and many urban residents want to tighten oil and gas regulations in the Barnett Shale in North Texas. Cities in the area are passing or considering legislation to limit where new wells can be drilled or to ban hydraulic fracturing completely. Recent occurrences have been:

  • On October 18, 2013, the city of Denton, Texas filed suit against Eagleridge Energy LLC to prevent the company from continuing to drill two new gas wells in an area between two residential developments without the required city permit approvals. The city argued that Eagleridge was violating ordinances that require approval of a site plan before drilling can commence and a setback of 1,200 feet from any residence. City of Denton v. Eagleridge Energy LLC, et al., Case No. 2013-30817-211, In the 211th Judicial District Court of Denton County, Texas.
  • On December 11, 2013, the Dallas City Council approved regulations that require gas wells to be at least 1,500 feet from homes, schools, churches and other protected properties. The regulations contain provisions concerning neighborhood meeting requirements, baseline sampling and testing of air, soil , noise and water, limitations on hours of operation, spill prevention and tracking, site maintenance, emissions, and materials management. 
  • On February 13, 2014, Trinity East Energy LLC sued the city of Dallas for alleged breach of an oil and gas lease when the City Council voted to deny the company’s drilling permits on public land. Seeking more than $200 million in damages, Trinity East argues that the city’s planning commission denied the permits without any evidence that the drilling would cause harm to the environment or to the residents. A spokesperson for Dallas stated that Trinity had asked for permits to drill on city park land, in the floodplain and near a new soccer complex and that the city validly exercised its regulatory powers to protect public health and safety as well as the environment by denying the permits. Trinity East Energy LLC v. Dallas, Case No. DC-14-01443, In the 192nd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas.
  • The anti-fracking group Denton Drilling Awareness Group started a signature campaign in February to allow the city residents to vote on a ban of hydraulic fracturing in the November elections. The group wants more protections incorporated into the city’s oil and gas ordinances, including prohibitions on open pits, compressor stations, and flaring as well as required notification to area residents of the presence of near-by wells and the possibility of hydraulic fracturing taking place.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.