Fort Worth Air Tests Bogus; Insider Talks

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Posted May 27, 2010 by Jeff Prince in Blotch

Barking about oil and gas industry tactics has become a large part of Fort Worth Weekly‘s investigative repertoire.  We keep hammering away because not many others will.

But a couple of news outlets released interesting revelations in the past 24 hours.

Chris Hawes at WFAA News 8 says state regulators failed to disclose benzene in those recent Fort Worth air tests. Remember, those tests? The ones that allegedly proved there were no toxins near Fort Worth’s natural gas sites? The ones that Mayor Mike Moncrief used as further proof the city doesn’t need a moratorium on drilling for further study?

State Sen. Wendy Davis said regulators have broken the public’s trust. DISH Mayor Calvin Tillman sent out a mass email saying “someone needs to go to jail over this.”

Meanwhile, Texas Observer staff writer Forrest Wilder has an interesting story in the current edition. Former Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) commissioner and 35-year government employee Larry Soward  spills the beans on the agency and is helping push for new legislation.

Soward describes TCEQ as “very friendly to industry” — an industry that lobbies commissioners and uses company lawyers to draft rules for the commission to consider.

“You’d have three or four of the lawyers or consultants,” he told the Observer. “They would set up meetings and go office to office with their spiel.”  (Sound familiar, Fort Worth?)

Soward doesn’t sound too confident the Legislature will rein in the industry — he blames the Lege for diluting TCEQ’s regulatory power in the first place.


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