Fracking Near Yellowstone: Deb Thomas’s Story

Deb Thomas in front of the Crosby well

On August 11, 2006 an industrial accident at a nearby drilling operation caused fracking chemicals to bubble up from the ground, sent a plume of toxic pollution into the air and led to a community-wide evacuation. Here’s Deb’s story:

Deb Thomas lives on the edge of Yellowstone and the Shoshone Forest. It is wild country. “You can go in any direction and ride, basically forever.” One day, while headed out to ride horses in the Shoshone Forest, she saw surveying flags, signaling the arrival of the oil and gas industry.

The industry had long been confounded by the region’s complex geology – the same that gives rise to Yellowstone’s famous geysers. But an Oklahoma-based company, lured by a Denver-based landman, had rounded up some investors and was going to try its luck, despite the region’s naturally occurring seismic activity and crisscrossing fractures and fissures.

The company’s luck soon ran out. After struggling to drill three wells, the company ran out of money and declared bankruptcy. For Deb and her neighbors, things were about to get even worse. The company reorganized and tried again. But the company was clearly in over its head. On August 11, 2006, Windsor Energy lost control of a well. Water polluted with fracking chemicals began bubbling up from the ground and a toxic haze settled over the community. The emergency response team was overwhelmed, leaving residents to take charge of an evacuation. The neighborhood’s water supply has been tainted with chemicals used in oil and gas production. Residents must rely on bottled water for drinking or expensive water treatment systems.

Deb and her neighbors have been disgusted by the state government’s lax response. “There is more regulation for the hospitality industry than there is on the oil and gas industry.” Deb has been organizing her fellow Wyoming residents and is headed to Washington, DC for the Stop the Frack Attack People’s Forum to persuade the federal government to step in to protect impacted people.

Join us this Wednesday, May 22nd at the People’s Forum and hear Deb’s powerful tale on her fight against fracking.

12-2pm, United Methodist Building