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The Brief: Dec. 16, 2014

The Tribune's Jim Malewitz tries to get at, in a piece also published in Politico Magazine, the root causes that spurred the town of Denton to approve a ban on fracking last month.

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The Big Conversation

The Tribune's Jim Malewitz tries to get at, in a piece also published in Politico Magazine, the root causes that spurred the town of Denton to approve a ban on fracking last month.

"So, how did a North Texas town come to reject a tool that has been instrumental in the state’s economic well-being?" wrote Malewitz. "It seems it was equal parts concerns about health and the environment and a good dose of NIMBY."

Malewitz takes on the argument that college students in Denton were responsible for passage of the fracking ban. What he found instead was the ban was more broad-based than the "blame the college kids" argument would suggest.

"Both Republican Greg Abbott ... and the ban prevailed in 11 of Denton’s biggest 33 precincts," wrote Malewitz. "Roughly 25,000 votes were cast in the fracking question and those opposed to fracking outpaced supporters by some 4,400 votes. Denton would have still passed the measure by 412 votes even if voters younger than 30 were disregarded. Voting data also shows that the average age of a voter was 52."

Malewitz also addresses the legal challenges to the fracking ban, writing, "Texas law says the state intends its mineral resources to be 'fully and effectively exploited,' but courts have said the power isn’t absolute. ... Where fracking falls on that spectrum is unclear. Texas courts have occasionally considered cities’ drilling regulations, but they have yet to see a case of such size and scope. The case will almost certainly reach the Texas Supreme Court."

The Day Ahead

•    Gov.-elect Greg Abbott is in Arlington to meet Dallas/Fort Worth area legislators to talk about legislative priorities for the upcoming session.

Trib Must-Reads

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Elsewhere

Ted Cruz Will Bank on the Base, National Review

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Oil Bust Veterans Brace While Shale-Boom Newbies Swagger, Bloomberg

UT System regents authorize hiring of a CEO to oversee oil lands, Austin American-Statesman

Dallas-based supplement maker faces federal investigation, The Dallas Morning News

With Hospitals Under Stress, Tennessee’s Governor Pursues Medicaid Expansion, The New York Times

Quote to Note

"What's bad for him in Washington is good for him everywhere he needs to win to be the GOP nominee. I don't think there are enough words in the English language that adequately describe how much Washington, D.C., is hated by everyone outside Washington, D.C."

— Steve Deace, a syndicated radio host based in Iowa, to the Houston Chronicle on Ted Cruz's strategy of continuing to press for action against President Obama's executive order on immigration, a move that is splitting the Republican Senate caucus

Today in TribTalk

Knowing my students' struggles, by Hector Joshua Galindo

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep.-elect Will Hurd on Dec. 18 in Austin

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