Static peered into its crystal ball and saw a promotion and more money in Collin Gregory’s future. Arlington’s gas well coordinator spoke about the safety and production of natural gas at a panel discussion held April 9 at the University of Texas at Arlington. When city employees begin shilling for a dirty industry, lucrative job offers seem to follow.
Gregory took part in an industry pep rally billed as “Join the Conversation on Powering UTA.” Other speakers included Chesapeake Energy and Carrizo Oil & Gas executives, along with head cheerleader Ed Ireland of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council. Their goal: Brainwash students about how the gas industry has created an alleged 100,000 jobs in North Texas and how gas drilling is the industry of the future. (Hey, weren’t solar and other alternative fuels supposed to reduce our reliance on gas and oil in the future?)
Based on what’s happened in Fort Worth, Gregory will soon resign his city position and accept a better-paying gig in the gas industry. Remember Fort Worth Mayor Ken Barr? He helped draft the city’s first gas well ordinance in 2001 and then stepped down as mayor. Barr’s departure allowed the oil-rich ex-Sen. Mike Moncrief to become mayor and provide protection for the industry in those early years before anyone knew to ask questions about pipelines, water usage, toxic emissions, infrastructure damage, decreased property values, etc.
What happened to Barr? He went to work for Chesapeake. So did Brian Boerner, Fort Worth’s former environmental manager. The gas industry also hired David Lunsford, who was Fort Worth’s lead gas inspector in those early years and never met a drill rig he didn’t love. Meanwhile, little known (and ethically challenged) Eastside resident Danny Scarth served on the city’s gas drilling task force in 2006 and was so friendly to drillers that they financed his campaign for city council, where he remains.
Gregory said he participated in the panel discussion because UTA students invited him. “We support our Mavericks and wanted to help them out the best we could,” he said.
So, did Chesapeake offer him a job yet?
“No,” he said. “My loyalty lies with the city of Arlington, especially the citizens here.”