A Fort Worth Gas Backlash at The Voting Booth?

Buyers-RemorseFor the last couple of years Dallas has gotten all the headlines over gas permit fights. It's because the Barnett Shale play took its time to roll eastward while evidence was mounting about the adverse effects of fracking. There was still a large precedent to be set when the play met the new evidence in Dallas. Citizens groups with professional staffs, like Downwinders, made a stand over a new Big D drilling ordinance (still) in progress.

But whereas Dallas has been the reluctant and controversial wallflower to the gas suitors, Fort Worth has been the region's floozie, stumbling over itself to offer up all of its goodies to the highest bidder. In Cowtown, no cultural, political, or social institution has been left unaffected by the smell of gas money. Officials who were preaching about clean air and regional responsibility in the 1990's took the money and ran…right over to Chesapeake HQ.  Now, fights over gas permits there are considered a kind of fifth column exercise by the rest of us. But of course, that's the way most people view being an environmentalist in Texas.

However, this last election cycle saw some signs of Fort Worth waking-up from its ten-year party. This Star-Telegram article points to opposition to a large compressor station as being a factor in the District 5 City Council run-off race there between incumbent Frank Moss and challenger Gyna Bivens. Bivens actually garnered more votes in the general election back in May.

"Bivens, who lives in Ramey Place near Dunbar High School and won her precinct by a wide margin, put up her strongest results in neighborhoods north of Interstate 30 and east of Loop 820. Those neighborhoods – new to the district in a redraw of council maps – are seeing new development and fighting attempts by the natural gas industry to place gas compressors on agriculturally zoned land in the bucolic area."

Coming out of this same neighborhood and leading the fight against that compressor is recent Tarrant Regional Water District winner Mary Kelleher, who was the only one of three challengers to win against entrenched incumbents of this usually staid entity. 

As far as we can tell, these are the first successful races to spotlight gas industry problems in Fort Worth. Considering the amount of wheeling and dealing over the last decade, surely they won't be the last.