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TotalEnergies Enlists Former State TCEQ Officials to do their Bidding at Arlington City Hall

TotalEnergies has enlisted some heavy hitters to peddle influence with local city council members as evidenced at a gas well permit vote on June 13th. More than a dozen citizens voiced their opposition to the new wells at the Fulson drill site, which is in the heart of a residential neighborhood in Arlington, to the city council that day.

Presenting at the June council meeting, and advocating for the granting of the drilling permits for Total, were former Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Chair Dr. Bryan Shaw and former TCEQ environmental investigator Rachel Jackson.

Upon further investigation by Liveable Arlington, we found that Dr. Shaw has been listed by the Texas Ethics Commission as a lobbyist for the largest state energy association, the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA), for a number of years. David Leopold, CEO of TotalEnergies E&P Barnett serves on the board of TXOGA. According to the state agency, Shaw makes anywhere upwards of $93,000 to over $185,000 doing prospect work as a lobbyist for TXOGA and just one other industrial client.

You may search the Texas Ethics Commission where this information is posted from 2021-2023 at this link: Texas Ethics Commission Lobby Registration Lists (2021-2025)

Shaw was appointed TCEQ Commissioner by former Governor Perry in 2007 and then appointed agency head in 2009. He retired in 2018.

The TCEQ is billed as the fourth largest air regulator in the country, yet it only has 555 agents to cover Texas’ 700,000 industrial facilities subject to inspection over a vast geographic area.

Though most citizens would like to think that the main mission of TCEQ is to protect the public and enforce environmental regulations, the agency’s long standing reputation does not live up to that. The agency is charged with overseeing compliance with environmental rules and investigating complaints about oil and gas operations and other polluting facilities. However, rarely do their investigations and reports result in any meaningful violations or fines.

An article by the French publication Disclose, found a certain laxity in the exchanges between the state agency and Total. In the fall of 2018, after a resident complained of severe headaches upon passing by one of the Total’s wells in Arlington, the site manager brushed it off, claiming that there was no activity or chemical release that could cause odors or illnesses from possible exposure near the site. No further evidence was requested by the TCEQ. Total’s point of contact to respond to the complaint that day was none other than Rachel Jackson, the former TCEQ inspector seen at the Arlington city council gas well hearing.

According to Disclose, two more former TCEQ inspectors, Marissa Hill and Ebun Broomes, now work for Total Energies, as well.

Total currently has more than 1700 wells in Texas. The company’s clear ambition is to continue its expansion to maintain its lead in US natural gas exports with the aid of former TCEQ officials like the “Honorable” Bryan Shaw and other former TCEQ employees.

It should be noted, that unlike the state, the City of Dallas, and other municipalities, Arlington does not require paid lobbyists to register and report on their activities or expenditures while trying to influence Council votes on issues of interest. Shaw has spoken at City Council public hearings in Arlington as part of Total’s presentations each time they have applied for gas well permits since 2021.

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