I received the nicest letter today from a self-described fracking addict. This letter will keep me going for a long time. Some of my very best friends are recovering fracking addicts.
Letter from a recovering pro-fracking addict.
May 21, 2015
To: Sharon Wilson, FrackFree Denton, and Earthworks
Hello. My name is Hunter Bonner and I was a resident of the City of Denton, TX from 2004 – 2014. My name may or may not sound familiar to you, but on many occasions, I have engaged discussions with you all via social media, and specifically Twitter on the subject of gas well fracking.
Many of these discussions would center around not only the subject of gas well fracking, but more recently, the push for a fracking ban in the City of Denton. I took on the position that while I “understood” the dangers that are associated with the natural gas industry, that mineral rights owners still had a “right” to their mineral royalties. Also, I frankly chided not only yourself, but FrackFree Denton folks for pushing for the ban citing that you were “overstepping” your authority on local control and regulation.
Then I did my own research. To put it very bluntly, I was shocked beyond belief. People actually being able to light their tap water faucets on fire, rivers with massive fish kills, and wildlife of all sorts that had died due to the contamination of the water supply due to gas well fracking. But most disturbing was hearing the stories of how people of all ages not only got sick from the water contamination, but that some had actually died due to illnesses brought on by the chemicals that had been injected into the ground.
Probably the biggest thing that struck me to my core was seeing this devastation brought on by these companies, that they would outright lie to people’s faces, lie to lawmakers and pretty much challenged you to prove them wrong whenever they would screw up someone’s life with them contaminating someone’s drinking water. To learn that the very companies that stand to profit from the gas drilling business, conducting their own “studies” that would state their was no danger to the water supply, but at the same time would read off a mile long list of chemicals that I cannot even pronounce and that all were considered toxic. The brazenness of the lying got me highly upset. But really, the person I was most upset with was myself.
To give some background, I am what most people would call a “Conservative” from a political point of view. I believe in G-d, anti-abortion, limited government, free markets, and until recently, support domestic production of our energy resources by any means necessary. On the last one I still support this, but I have come to realize that there has to be a better way than injecting toxic chemicals into the soil and putting the public at a major health risk. I would even go so far as to admit that prior to my research, that deep down I knew that there is something inherently unhealthy about injecting chemicals into the ground where we grow our food and get water from. I did not publicly admit this for fear of being labeled an “environmentalist” or “left wing nut-job.” I now realize, that this was, and is, wrong thinking. Worst of all, I elected the very politicians that have given a free pass to the petroleum and natural gas companies that are doing all of this.
The purpose of this letter is to say that first, I apologize to you, FrackFree Denton, and Earthworks for my ignorant chastisement of your position on gas well fracking. Second, I hope that my story can serve as some sort of example to other Conservatives, that they are not left wing nut-jobs just because they desire clean drinking water. Finally, I want you all to know that the work your organization performs, does in fact make a difference with people like me. People who think they “understand” what gas well fracking is all about, but really have not a clue about it. To say the least, my eyes have definitely been opened!
So what is next for a Conservative like me to do you may ask? The answer is simple: Pressure my elected leaders in Congress to finally be serious about the Frac Act, and not let it die in committee like it has several times in the past. That means, going against the grain of the Republican Party, and really, any party platform that desires to give gas well companies a free pass on contaminating the water. I now understand why the frack ban vote passed so well in Denton along both party lines. A clean water supply is a non-partisan issue. Anyone who disagrees with that either is getting a payoff from the polluters, or is incapable of common sense approach to environmental issues.
If this letter was too long I apologize for that. However, I did want to share my complete thoughts on this matter, and I sincerely believe that all of you deserved this apology and admission of mine.
Thank you for your time.
New Ally in the Anti-Frac Fight
P.S. Should you want to publish my letter on your blog, either via Bluedaze, FrackFree Denton, or Earthworks, I give full permission to do so. People need to wake up.
And this is a comment from the Denton Record Chronicle, which you need to read the comment thread to understand that the wing nut comment was in jest.
I didn’t read all the letters condemning Myra Crownover and the Texas Legislature over HB 40. Suffice to say, after conducting some research into the whole fracking thing, I am publicly, and unashamedly declaring that my previous positions on Natural Gas Well Fracking, and support of HB 40, were and are completely wrong.
I am also declaring that you can be a Conservative politically, and do not instantly become a “left wing nut-job” simply because you desire clean drinking water, and you think that gas and oil companies lying to the faces of people, Congress, etc and politicians taking money from said companies in exchange for votes is wrong.
My name is Hunter Bonner, and I am a recovering ProFracking addict. I only request mercy and understanding.
When fracking first started in Texas, I didn’t know anyone who was against it. People learn. We make new friends and discover that we are more alike than different. We are a huge family.
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.
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My name is Sharon and I’m a recovering fracking addict.
Most people know that, at first, I only wanted to make money and didn’t want to hear the bad stuff about fracking. But, until very recently, I was too ashamed to admit that, in 2002, I had a spreadsheet with the names of every operator in Wise County. One-by-one, I wrote letters to them asking them to drill on my land.
Then I started researching fracking and kept ending up on Earthworks website. Back then Earthworks was the only environmental organization working on fracking issues. As my friend Calvin says: Once you know, you can’t not-know.
Carol Grosser says
Did any of you listen to a fairly recent Diane Rehm show where fracking was discussed? I have not been following as I used to when I was fracked so I don’t know how much of that show was actually true. If anyone did listen to it and it can be accessed on the net, would you clarify this program’s content?
It’s so good to hear from you. Rehm has had a number of fracking shows and they are usually slightly industry favorable. I don’t know which show you are asking about.
Carol Grosser says
Yes, I don’t remember which show, but I expect it might be the most recent one and it was DEFINITELY industry friendly. Since I became a raw vegan and thus no longer participating to the energy intensive meat, poultry, and diary industry, she was also not clear about the danger of excessive meat consumption on illnesses like cardiac disease, stroke, and diabetes 2. I have lost belief in her show primarily, I suppose, because of the need to keep those industries protected in order to get funding. All of these types of issues are clearly defined in T. Colin Campbell’s book, “Whole,” which I recommend all interested in energy should read as it covers the energy costs of meat production, worldwide.
I was trying to be nice in that previous comment. I’ve found her shows to be very biased in industry’s favor. They get lots of money from the oil & gas industry.
I will check out that book. I’m vegetarian but I don’t see me going vegan. I only eat grass-fed dairy and eggs though.
Carol Grosser says
Congratulations, you are on the way to perfect health. Just be sure to watch the level of any kind of fat calories and try to keep the fat calories within 10% of your total daily caloric intake. Otherwise you are at risk for the high-fat diseases, i.e., overweight, type 2 diabetes, and, of course, circulatory problems like stroke or heart attack. Biologically, we are not meat eaters. We don’t have tearing teeth, we have grinding teeth, and our digestive system is very long and not short like carnivores. We also need high levels of plant fiber to keep our friendly bacteria that do most of our digestion in happiness. Non-digestible fiber (like plants have) is the only thing our gut bacteria wants and we want them alive!
I am still and will always be awed at your courage in leading the movement to protect clean water. You saved me when I was fracked with the resulting and terrifying health problems! Someday I hope to have your courage!
vera scroggins says
thanks, Sharon, for recovering; you’ve come a long way and leading the way for others
to come out of the Gas and Oil Fog and Defend Life and Earth…..
Tammi Vajda says
Thank you Sharon. Thanks to you I have been a recovering fracking addict for almost 8 years. I’m positive I will never want to indulge in fracking again!
Tim Ruggiero says
There was a time not long ago when I was part of the Drill Here, Drill Now crowd. Little did I realize that ‘here’ included our backyards, schools, parks & playgrounds. I also used to be a Republican, and on election day, it was straight party ticket, baby! What was there to think about? Just vote Republican straight party ticket, and you’re out the door in minutes. Damn Liberals hugging trees and shit, Save the Whales, the sky is falling and all kinds of other nonsense.
Then one day, Industry decided that they had a greater right to my land than I did. Sharon was the first person I found. “It’s called Split Estate”, she says. “You may own the surface, and maybe the first 6 inches of top soil, but somebody else owns the minerals, and by law, they have the right to develop those minerals. You won’t be able to stop them from drilling’. I very quickly found out who my friends were-and who wasn’t. I was suddenly being attacked by people I had never even met.
The Sunday following an interview with the local paper, I was getting some serious stink eye from my fellow parishioners. I guess complaining about a drill rig 300 feet outside my backdoor was just simply not what good Christian people do. My, how they used to enjoy seeing me, with hearty handshakes, hugs and have a blessed day! Now they won’t sit anywhere near us in church, and feel like I’ve committed some atrocious crime. “You know what your problem is, Tim? You’re just a damn Liberal!” “You’re just mad because you ain’t gettin’ paid!” I tried talking to some of them, and some came around- a little, but it was never the same after that. Nothing like feeling unwelcome in your own church.
So in the end, they’re still there, we’re not. I’ll never go through that hell again, and work where I can to help others trapped in the same situation. I don’t really care about their politics because I know Industry sure as hell doesn’t, and all those hot button issues-guns, gays, abortion, death penalty and on and on-have nothing to do with this issue we call FRACKING. If fighting for clean water, clean air, real property rights and holding Industry accountable for their misdeeds and the politicians that firmly support them makes me a ‘liberal’ or an ‘environmental activist’, then I’m good with that.
Good comment, Tim. I am in total agreement with you since we also have been ruined by BIG GAS in Booger County. I also no longer am a person associated with any political party since I have learned about our local junta. It’s just another lesson learned in our “Post Retirement Re-Education Program”.
vera scroggins says
thanks, Tim, for your amazing story which is being repeated all over our country ; I want to share this with our folks in my county in Pa. who have been treated similarly and myself and the Industry has fractured our communities, churches, Democracy and all for filthy lucre while they poison our water and air….Peace and love…
vera scroggins recently posted..County Commissioners Meeting – 8-27-14
Amen, Tim ‘ole buddy. Know the situation well. I worked in the oil patch for some 35+ years, then retired and then here they came, been ruined in our retirement home in Booger County. In Texas, don’t spend much money on a quality of life residential home–if you get one, then they can ruin you and you have to run.
Kim Feil says
I signed my minerals away in 2007…even helped my neighborhood organize…then I found Texas Sharon’s website and my world forever changed…
Jana DeGrand says
Thank you for your letter Hunter, I hope your courage serves as an example for others to speak out as well. Before learning about fracking, I had little knowledge about the extent the oil/gas industry had invaded virtually every aspect of our lives. Keep learning and sharing. Thank you Sharon, Tim, Kim, Tammi, and everyone else who continue to stand up and speak out.
I was glad to see Hunter’s letter to you. Hunter and I frequently interact in the letters column of the Denton Record Chronicle, often on opposite sides of an issue, but occasionally we bend in the others directions when one makes and supports valid, fact-based information. For that I have always deemed Hunter as an honorable adversary unlike some (Phillip Sweet) who post on the Letters to the Editor page.
Hunter’s conversion to the reality about the threats we face from a poorly regulated oil and gas drilling industry shows that persistence with the facts will win over those who are less ideological in their views and willing to work for the sake of the common good with those who don’t hold similar political values.
My experiences with Hunter where like yours. I always thought he was a decent guy.
Hunter Bonner says
Wow! So many nice words from everyone. Sharon is quite simply put, a vat of information on this entire industry. I’ve also been reading over the last few days and am still delving in more on what Tim Ruggiero has on his Shaletest website. To be quite honest, I really didn’t expect such a warm reception, but you know what. That is what makes us unique as human beings. The power of forgiveness, and the power to say, “Hey, he’s on our side now. Let’s encourage this.”
Larry Beck is a stand up guy. We’ve had our share of disagreements, and some rather heated. However, at the end of the day, I too respect Larry because he respects my point of view, while not abandoning his own. He’s not hateful, and frankly, none of you are. When I see your posts in response to people who I used to be like on this subject, I think they just resent that you are presenting facts, and honestly, blow holes in the hull of their happy “Fracking Cruise Ship.” I’ve actually been quite appalled and not only so called “Conservatives” behavior, but as I indicated in my letter, in hindsight, I acted like a kool-aid drinking idiot.
Now if Howard Garrett will forgive me, I think this will turn out to be a fantastic month. LOL Thanks again for welcoming me in!
Hunter, I never remember that you were rude. I always thought you seemed like a decent guy who just didn’t know much about the realities of fracking. Anyway, that’s how I remember it.
Daniel Melendez says
Hi Sharon thank you for getting the word out and for all your hard work.
I have always been against drilling and fracking. I took the money only because I knew they were going to drill/frack regardless and thought there was nothing I could do.
Now meeting great groups and dedicated individuals in the fight against drilling/fracking I feel maybe there is a glimmer of hope.
Many are in your situation. Use some of the money to do good and fight back.