This is me when I was four right after I won my first trophy for horsemanship.
See, I’m not really a blogger or an activist and I’m damn sure not a cowgirl.
“For the cows I never cared. It was riding that got me there.” Chuck Pyle
I’m a horsewoman.
I grew up hauling hay, fixing fence, riding the tractor with my grandfather and slipping away whenever I could to ride whichever horse got close enough to catch. They called me Horsefly.
As an adult, I wanted what nearly everyone in Texas does: to work in the oil and gas industry. There is a reason the oil and gas industry pays high salaries. It buys loyalty and silence. But, after 12 years, I’d had enough.
I bought 42 beautiful acres in north Wise County adjacent to the LBJ National Grasslands. I did not know that right in my Wise County backyard, Mitchell Energy was experimenting to learn how to frack oil and gas from the shale beneath my land.
I was living my dream.
I had the opportunity to obtain 50% of the minerals under my American Dream. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant until the hype started circulating about “free money” and “mailbox money.” With visions of Ellie Mae,Clampitt, critters and that mailbox money, I started writing operators asking them to drill on my property.
Then I decided to research what shale drilling really meant and that’s how I ended up on the Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) website. And my life has never been the same.
The OGAP publications opened my eyes to what was happening around me. I started talking about what I was seeing and writing letters to the paper. But people didn’t want to know the shocking truth about the destruction happening in their backyards.
They called me a “left-wing lunatic.” This despite these facts:
- I drove a pickup with a gun rack.
- I’m an expert horsewoman
- I can sling a rope and sometimes catch something in it.
- I’m a damn good shot.
That and more is what they do to people who ask questions and speak out. It’s called intimidation but I was not intimidated. I was mad. So I started a blog. I took pictures and videos and posted those on my blog along with what I was learning. Eventually my readers expanded from 100/week to 10,000/week and my blog recently logged its one millionth view.
People started contacting me through my blog seeking advice. They sent me photos and videos and asked me to tell their stories. I helped them learn how to document contamination, do open records requests and wade through the regulatory maze in Texas and other states.
Now, I’m a conduit for other people’s stories of harm from all over the globe.
In January 2010, I started working part-time for OGAP and in May 2011, I because a full-time organizer.
Life in the gas patch is like living on the edge of a volcano. I never knew what, if anything, might come out when I turned on the tap. I went through a very long, painful process of saying goodbye to my American Dream, my land and my horses. I now live off the shale, in a neighborhood with an HOA that won’t even allow me to have backyard hens.
We need to stop the pain and destruction. Americans are being sacrificed everyday—loosing their America Dreams, their health and their wellbeing—communities are divided and our children’s future is slipping away because we are addicted to dirty fossil fuels.
I am asking you to join me on 7.28.12 in DC.