Denton resident who owns minerals supports fracking ban


I received this beautifully written essay from a mineral owner who is a Denton resident.

If someone offered to give you $10, but in exchange, you would have to agree to put a child at increased risk for leukemia, would you do it? What if the dollar amount were larger, such as $100? Or $1,000? Or $100,000? Or $1,000,000? Is there a monetary value at which you would agree to this arrangement?

Now, what if you were approached with the same scenario, but instead of leukemia, you would have to watch a child experience multiple nosebleeds? Would you agree to it? If so, for what amount of money?

Finally, what if you were told that you had no control over whether or not children would experience these health problems, but that you would receive millions and millions of dollars based on actions that caused nosebleeds and leukemia? Would you rationalize the situation by saying “I can’t do anything about it, so I may as well enjoy the money”?

This isn’t just a hypothetical ethical quiz, but rather, it’s the reality of those who benefit financially from fracking (hydraulic fracturing). I’m one of those people. I can’t use my real name here because the oil and gas industry is so vicious that I would be endangering myself if they found out that I was writing this. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. If you think that their public actions are awful, imagine how much worse they are when they can do horrible things behind closed doors.

So I’ll add this disclaimer: if a reporter reads this and wants to confirm my identity, I’ll consent and provide more details as long as I have an assurance of my anonymity as a news source.

Now, back to the scenarios of money in exchange for childhood illnesses. The oil and gas industry claims that there are no related health problems, in spite of mounting evidence that proves them wrong. They’ve even bribed university-affiliated scientists to back them up with scientifically deceptive research. And they bully public officials into caving when local residents demand more regulations, by threatening multi-million dollar lawsuits.

All of these issues get back to money, the false idol that Jesus warned us about (“No one can serve two masters”). And we as a society have grown to love the almighty dollar. It drives so many of the decisions we make. Fracking is no exception.

I’m not going to pretend that it’s always been easy for me to take a stance against fracking. As someone who grew up poor, the money has been seductive at times, until I step back and remind myself that it is indeed a false idol. Every single day, I tell myself not to let the money take over my soul. I step up this mantra once a month when my bank account suddenly has an infusion of funds, which can be several hundred thousand dollars in a single month.

Sometimes I cry when I look at my bank account. I get distraught when I see the money and know that children are suffering. I think about how I’ve been told that their are no health-related dangers associated with fracking, and how dismissive the powers-that-be have been when I’ve repeatedly voiced my concerns. They talk to me in a condescending way, as if I’m a naïve child who “means well” but is misinformed.

They forget that I am highly-educated (I have two graduate degrees from a well-known university) and know how to conduct research. They don’t realize that I cannot be bought. I refuse to rationalize their actions and convince myself that what they’re doing is OK when I know firsthand that they are seriously harming communities. As strange as it sounds, my situation is such that I don’t have the authority to order the drilling to stop, at least not directly.

A few months ago, I visited some sites where fracking is taking place. I was nervous about doing this because I knew that everything I had read would suddenly become real for me. I knew that I would no longer be able to compartmentalize the financial aspect of my life. After several hours around the pollution, I struggled to breathe deeply because of the toxic fumes. My voice was sore the next day.

I can’t imagine how much worse it is to live near a fracking site, but then again, I don’t have to imagine it: I can listen to the reports of those who are right there. It’s absolutely horrible. No amount of money is worth subjecting children to such suffering. Don’t let the industry trick you into thinking that this is a “safe” technology. It’s not.

So what do I do with the fracking money? I channel it to organizations that are working to fight poverty, homelessness … and fracking. Yes, that’s right. “Income” generated by fracking is being redirected into efforts to halt the industry’s destructive activities.

While I might not be able to order the companies to stop drilling all by myself, I can take their profits and put the money back into causes that advocate for those who are harmed by the industry. I can only pray that we’ll reach a point where no child will have to endure leukemia or even nosebleeds in exchange for a supposedly “thriving” live-and-let-die economy.

This reminds me of “The Box,” a movie I watched where one person receives a box. If they open the box and push the button therein, they will receive $1 million dollars and someone will die. Only, with mineral ownership, you aren’t always given such a clear choice. Sometimes you aren’t given any choice at all.

I think there are a lot more people like this out there. I KNOW there are because they contact me.



About Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.


  1. Rene says

    You know its nice that you have the guts to stand up and say how you feel. But those of use who are suffering don’t feel sorry for you when you have hundreds of thousands of dollars going into your bank account every month. I had to wince yesterday because my daughter can’t breath and she says it happens often. I have had to live a two year nightmare and though I know deep in my heart its from fracking THERE IS NO PROOF. I worked right across the street from a well and didn’t even know it. I was called a hypochondriac because suddenly I developed asthmas and had lost my gallbladder and my thyroid the falling year. I still am NOT well and you want to say you are sorry? I have nearly lost my mind protesting to people to listen to me and still THERE IS NO PROOF.
    I have developed LUPUS because of these wells. I have had horrible nosebleeds and I didn’t even know it was there. I have fibromylagia and mouth sores and burning eyes and have to wear a MASK to go outside. I have people stare at me and you want me to feel sorry for you because you can’t stop the drilling?????
    I can’t afford my medical bills and don’t have money for a lawyer to prove anything.
    And yet you have hundreds of thousands of dollars going into your bank account every month. That is disgusting.
    Why don’t you take the time to research what they have done in Pennsylvania for the medical clinics they have for the residents near the fracking sites. I get so dizzy when I go outside sometimes I can’t even go outside.
    My whole life has been turned around because of these wells. AND I DIDN”T EVEN KNOW IT!!! Until a few citizens had enough guts to form a petition. I have lost friends and my job and my car all because someone is out for the almighty dollar.
    Tell them to take their money and shove but don’t brag on here what you have done with it. Because it is NOT helping those of us that are sick. My body is so allergic to things and before any of this happened I was the most energetic person you could ever meet. I didn’t have a care in the world. My life was so good that I couldn’t ask for anything more. AND now someone that makes hundreds of thousands a dollars a month wants MY Sympathy. Yea, you want my sympathy do something about the health crisis that is going on here not just getting it banned. I know I am not the only one, others probably just brushed it off.

    I am so disgusted with this whole thing……GO GET THEM CATHY AND ADAM and everyone else that can’ go to that meeting tomorrow. Let them know to save Denton but please don’t feel sorry for him.

    • says

      I am so very sorry for everything that has happened to you and I would like to find a way to help you. I work every single day trying to find a way to help people like you. I also understand how very angry you are and you are entitled to your anger because you have been damaged.

      But your anger in this case is misplaced. Maybe you missed the part where this person did not have an option to not lease which is the case for many people. If you have a large family that all wants to lease, there is no choice for one person who doesn’t. I know many families that have been torn apart because of these situations. Maybe you missed the part where this person gives the royalties to people who can help people like you. I want to support you, but I can’t do that without funding and some of that funding comes from people who, for moral reasons, donate their royalties.

      Also, I did not hear this mineral owner asking for sympathy. Not in the least.

      • Rene says

        In some cases it probably was misplaced because I am angry. I am angry i have been sick for so long and no one to help solve it. And after I read it, I thought of something. There is a big fracking well right by the salvation army in Denton.
        I am tired of being sick. And I want more than anything to go to that meeting tomorrow but the more i thought of it, its probably the wrong place for me to be with all those people. And that’s not how it always was.
        So I apologize, you are right and I am happy he is redirecting his royalities. I know I am not the only one that’s health has been in jeopardy. i guess when I didn’t see that address, I just got mad.

        • says

          I hope that you will reconsider and attend the meeting. I think the council needs to hear from people like you. Please, at least, write them an email.

          I would like to meet you and help you tell your story. Your story needs to get out as a warning to others. So many times people who are sick won’t go public and then others never find out. They live by these wells thinking their health problems are caused by something else.

  2. Rene says

    Do you have the email? Because I will be more than Happy to write an email.

    I had something come up during that time frame. I really want to go but I also have no way of getting there. I have been without a car for a long time and don’t live close to the location.

    I also read that you can enter a card for them to read it for you but not sure if I can drop that off before the meeting.

  3. Rene says

    I am more than happy to tell my story but I have nothing to back it up other than I know where the wells are and I had none of these symptoms before I moved to Texas in 2009. All my previous doctors were at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, so I would hope they would have caught something.
    I don’t have the money to even keep up with the medical issues. The stress of this whole thing is so overwhelming and I can’t believe it has been under my nose all along.

    • says

      We have lots of anecdotal stories. All science starts with anecdotes. You have a timeline of health and then got very sick with illnesses that are common to people who have been exposed to hydrocarbons. That’s a start.

  4. Rene says

    I want to say that I am sorry to the person who wrote the above article. I didn’t read all the articles in this periodical before I blasted you. I am angry and today is not a good day. But it turns out if you hadn’t written this article I never would have had been put in contact with the editor.
    The editor is right it does take guts to stand up for what you believe in and I was reading between the lines and not at the whole situation. I am going to find the email to the city council. TX Sharon please feel free to email me because I do have all the tracking of my symptoms, my doctors and hospitals and for what I don’t remember, I have typed out to my rheumotologist. You have really put some hope back in me. I get leary and gun shy when people say they can help me but it seems I have been browsing around your periodical and THIS is WHAT I NEEDED TO BEGIN to answer my questions. You have both been a great help to my serenity tonight. Please email me and we can go from there. I am very passionate and not always angry about telling my story and finding the answers that I so richly deserve.

    • says

      It takes courage to apologize.

      I’m not saying I can help you but I might be able to show you how to help yourself. I don’t have your email but you can get my email at “contact me” in the bar at the top.

  5. SharonKnowsMe says

    Yes, I know all about Leukemia. My husband died of it, in his 40s, two years after drilling started right behind us. Two years after that, my next door neighbor died of lung cancer (non-smoker). Another neighbor was in the hospital nearly every month with pneumonia (had never had it before).

    Thank you for donating royalties to good causes.

  6. Maile says

    Rene – I totally understand your anger. I have two small children who are sick due to the drilling. Please understand that even tiny steps like the royalty owner above is making are important. I wish you would be able to attend the meeting tomorrow night, but if you cannot, you can watch it on the web at the following link:

    You will see people who have been hurt by fracking, like me, talking about our experiences and trying to educate those who know no better. I feel your pain, and I hope that we can stop the unmitigated disaster that is fracking before anyone else has to suffer.

  7. Rene says


    I would love to go. I just don’t have the transportation to get there. I also have an appointment until seven. I am slowly getting my words out there. Its people like these that have put all of this information together that help. TXSharon gave me the directions on how to keep track of air control. There is also an article about one family that had blood tests done in Lewisville. Thank God, there is a train to Lewisville now. But i was looking for a doctor that would do those tests to. I know I can get insurance soon. These are all promising steps for me. I haven’t been able to go to my rheumotologist since February and haven’t been able to see him since this fracking discovery. That’s what I am the most hurt by. I want to see the doctor that finally made me feel a little bit better but I can’t because I don’t have the funds to do so. And every time I got close to getting things straight, I get sick again. Lupus is very very unpredictable.
    I pray for you and your family to and hope they come to the right decision tomorrow. I will DEFINITELY be watching.

  8. Jana says

    Rene, I am so sorry to hear about your health and the challenges you are facing. Please know, there are many people like you. I applaud you for being brave and sharing what has happened to you. It is very important for everyone affected to speak up and tell their story, it is not always easy to do that. When the drilling started around my home many years ago, I went from being a very active, employed person who could contribute to the support of my family and home to someone who on many days could not even care for myself. I’ve had a heart attack, my gall bladder melted to my small intestine, my appendix was “obliterated” (surgeon’s word in report), strokes in my ovaries, multiple falls, vascular spasms in my heart, brain, and other parts of my body, tumors. I went to multiple physicians, and was even referred to the Mayo clinic. The chronic headaches, muscle weakness, numbness etc. eventually disabled me. I found out the hard way that there is a time limit on disability through SSDI. My diagnosis was too late for coverage, so I have been on final appeal for more than 1 year. I share not to whine, but to let you know you are not alone. I’m just a few days in my move off the shale, but am ever hopeful that I will continue to get better. Try to stay strong and focused. Many physicians have joined our fight. The reports are growing that show the effects of living in the shale. It is always helpful to take printed reports, links, and share with your doctors. Take care.

  9. Rene says

    I have learned a long time ago that sharing your story with others will help yourself heal and educate others to stop making the same mistakes that we made. I often dream of a world where I am not sick anymore. My problem is I think its to late. Yes, if they stop others will get better. But my disease is already in full force. I just can’t believe no one can see what it’s doing to people. Yes, I am very angry. But the one thing I do realize is that no matter what health issue keeps popping up, they haven’t broke my spirit. You realize your strength when its the only thing you have left. I will keep sharing my story with others and I won”t stop. I am so sorry that you have gone through this awful thing. I think they should do the same thing Pennsylvania does and open a health clinic.

    Then google…MADION….its acronym for mother’s against fracking.

    I will never quit fighting because even if I don’t want to do it for me. I will do it for my daughter.

  10. Ben says

    This is a perfect opportunity to explain your lease w. Aruba Energy & what you do with your royalties now that you are “paid shill” for the anti-fracking crowd.

  11. Bill Owens says

    Sharon since you are getting royalty checks wouldn’t you think it would be nice to give some of your royalty money to help Rene with her medical cost?
    After all you are asking her to help you out … seems fair to me

    • says

      Sure Bill, my royalty check might pay for one doctor visit as long as it was only just a short visit and no medical tests. And I donate regularly to organizations that fight fracking.

  12. says

    Hey Bill, I have an idea. What about asking industry to pay for Rene medical bills? Their dirty, sneaky, self serving, lying, greedy industry ways are the reason we are in this mess to begin with . So how about splitting the cost with industry, Crownover, and Estes. Let those who have profited the most by other people misery pay first.

    • says

      Bill is from Colorado. Why would someone from Pagosa Springs, CO care about what goes on in Denton? My guess is that he is 1) an absentee mineral owner who wants Denton to be his extraction zone, or 2) he works for industry and, as we know, they are all terrified by the local areas that have had enough of fracking.

      If they were any good at fracking, we wouldn’t be here. But they suck at it so they have to resort to the ONLY thing they are good at: bullying and intimidating people.