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A Texas Town Takes on Fracking as a Racial Justice Issue

Just after passing resolutions to elevate the needs of Black and Hispanic residents, the Arlington City Council took an unusual stand on drilling. 

The Barnett Shale Gas field in Fort Worth, Texas. The shale extends under Arlington, where the city council just took a controversial vote to reject a fracking permit. 

The Barnett Shale Gas field in Fort Worth, Texas. The shale extends under Arlington, where the city council just took a controversial vote to reject a fracking permit. 

Photographer: J. G. Domke

Arlington, Texas, became one of a number of U.S. cities to pass racial equity resolutions in recent months after the police killing of George Floyd, acknowledging the “devastating impact” of Covid-19 on the African-American and Hispanic communities. The resolutions also committed to lifting up “the medical and social needs” of the marginalized.

With racial justice now prominently elevated to the top of Arlington’s agenda, it didn’t take long to test the resolutions’ political gravity. Just after the city council adopted them, what would normally be a standard fracking approval vote turned into a forum for residents’ concerns about the environmental and health risks of gas extraction near Black and Latino neighborhoods.