Paid AstroTurf group circulating petition to support fracking in Denton



AstroTurf – refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.

The Rumor

Someone in the Denton DAG group received a “strange anonymous phone call” from a person claiming to support us/FrackFreeDenton. This person said a man named Charlie Chavez from Dallas and maybe five others have been hired by someone to collect signatures on an unofficial “plebiscite petition” opposing our official petition – they will present it to City Council on July 15. They are being paid per signature and they do not have to be signatures from registered voters. I guess they are doing this at libraries, on the square, DMV, other public places. They started a couple of days ago and they want to get 8,000 signatures.

Flawed fracking business model

Assuming this is true, and we have reason to believe it is, this shows what poor business decision the frackers make. They are willing to pay circulators and pay for signatures on a meaningless petition. A better business decision would be investing that money in vapor recovery technology for the compressor on Vintage road. Then the neighbors would be less pissed off about having fracking in their backyards. If the fracking industry would make these kinds of business decisions, there wouldn’t be so much opposition. But the fracking industry never makes those kinds of decisions.


From someone we know well: On Tuesday July 1, 2014, at approximately 2:00 pm, I was on my way into the Denton South Branch Library.  A woman was outside the entrance to the library.  She asked if I would like to sign a petition “about” fracking.  I asked her how the petition might differ from the already existing petition.  She could not tell me so I didn’t think much more about it at the time and went into the library.  When I was leaving the library, I thought to ask her a few more questions.  During my time in the library, she must have called her supervisor because she then told me I must be thinking of the anti-fracking petition and that her petition was in favor of fracking.  I was a little astonished.  I asked her who was behind the petition and she said all she knew is that her checks were signed by “Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy,”  She seemed very uninformed and couldn’t answer other questions. She just kept saying she had only been hired a couple of days ago.

This is typical astroturfing. They don’t understand the issues because they were hired by outsiders to push a corporate friendly agenda. They have no skin or flesh and blood in the game.

What taxpayer in Denton isn’t for a strong economy? Most already know that the Denton’s economy is not improved by fracking.

About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. says

    Hopefully there will be some reporters at the council meeting on 7/15 who can ask the right question to expose this group for what they are. Damn, I hope I never need money bad enough to do this kind of deceitful activity.