Natural gas is a hot topic these days. Just ask the folks in Palo Pinto County, where fires burned for days after a drilling operation prompted a Dec. 16 underground explosion. The resulting crater gave some lucky rancher the largest and most quickly dug stock tank in history. But did you know that another detonation had occurred just hours earlier at the R.D. Evans Community Center in West Fort Worth?

The city’s gas drilling task force was meeting to discuss the drilling boom’s effects on neighborhoods, and Eastside activist Don Young’s temper erupted like Spindletop on steroids as he questioned the validity of a task force dominated by industry reps, developers, and lawyers. “They’re running the show!” he hollered. “This task force ought to be disbanded.”

The task force turned on Young like a pack of pit bulls on a yappy poodle. “Is this guy’s three minutes up yet?” attorney Jim Schell asked, adding that the task force shouldn’t have to endure Young’s harassment. Uh, wrong. Only one minute had passed, and speakers had been granted three minutes each. The task force had to listen to 120 more seconds of Young’s harangue. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” said a task force member, his back turned to Young.


Nine other residents had signed up to speak, and they were all eager. Something about listening to oil and gas reps sitting around a table for an hour patting themselves on the back over the saintliness of their companies made homeowners fume. They complained of noise, pollution, property destruction, and decreased property values. Some who’d been steamrolled by gas drillers shared their experiences. “You are not kinder, you are not gentler,” Hills of Gilmore Creek resident Sharen Hyde said, chastising Devon Energy Corp.’s Gilbert Horton, who had waxed eloquent about his company’s concern for residents and the environment.

On the other hand, city councilman Chuck Silcox’s task force appointee, Gary Hogan, is clearly fighting for neighborhood rights. He too accused the task force of being weighted toward drillers. “Every vote for restrictions on development of gas well operations will meet with an uneven vote in their favor,” he wrote in an e-mail to city council members the next day.

Somewhere, oil-and-gas-friendly Mayor Mike “Col. Klink” Moncrief is yelling, “Hooogaaann!”

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