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Donald Trump's Appeal to Anti-Fracking Activists Falling Flat in North Texas

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Trump creating political havoc is no surprise. He seems to pride himself on his ability to connect with the more extreme of the voter base. But his most recent political bombshell is so shocking it will be a wonder he’ll have any Texan Republicans left to vote for him in November.

Last week, Trump stopped in Colorado Springs and spoke off-the-cuff with a local TV news reporter who asked him if he backed the language in an anti-fracking ballot that gives municipalities the ability to ban oil and gas exploration.

“Well, I’m in favor of fracking, but I think that voters should have a big say in it,” Trump said. “I mean, there’s some areas, maybe, they don’t want to have fracking. And I think if the voters are voting for it, that’s up to them. … If a municipality or a state wants to ban fracking, I can understand that.”

In normal election cycles, this kind of proclamation would garner supporters from the anti-fracking activists who normally side with the more liberal-minded among our political candidates. But this cycle isn’t normal. So the Observer decided to reach out to local anti-fracking activists and ask what they thought of this fresh support.   

Susan Read, who banded together with several neighbors to form The Westchester-Grand Prairie Community Alliance when frackers appeared in her neighborhood in 2010, claims Trump’s words make no difference to her because she’s been a lifelong Democrat. But she does agree with him.

“Our City Council eventually saw that they needed to work with us to stop the efforts of Chesapeake (specifically) in our neighborhood or they were going to lose elections city-wide,” Read said. “We achieved ‘local control’ for our neighborhood. Chesapeake is gone.”

"Texas" Sharon Wilson, one of the most well known anti-fracking activists in Texas, wasn’t able to comment. “I work for a 501(c)(3) so I can't comment about candidates in any official capacity,” she wrote in an email.

In Denton, where fracking was banned for a short time until House Bill 40 stripped away local control over the oil and gas industry, voters were a little more feisty with their comments about Trump’s new stance. We asked, does Trump’s stance make him more appealing to you as a voter?

“There is a lot of room for Trump to be ‘more appealing,’ so, I guess?” Thomas Earthman responded. “But that's like saying that a turd on my shoe didn't get smeared on that carpet.”

Larry Beck, a Denton voter who stays quite active on Denton-centric Facebook pages, relayed his thoughts more eloquently. “Trump can promise the moon, but he has a track record of changing with the wind and will always affect change that benefits him personally," he wrote. "He does not know how to be a public servant so this rumination of his on local control isn’t worth its weight in beans.”

But not everyone was quick to hit Trump with an oil tanker of rejection. Denton voter Tim Ruggiero didn’t see what Trump said as much different than what Hillary Clinton has said when she claimed to be opposed to fracking if municipalities or states oppose it.

“She's said nothing about when states overrule 'localities,’” Ruggiero posted. “She's also made promises to add additional regulations to the point where the frackers won't have hardly anywhere to frack. I'd love to know how she would get that done. ... Texas has told Obama's EPA to go home, why would it be any different under a Clinton presidency?” 

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