“One set of rules for Chesapeake. One set of rules for us.”
This story is about Ranjana, a mother and economics lecturer in Arlington, Texas.
She bought a house there with her husband in 1993. It’s Texas, so it didn’t shock them when the realtor mentioned mineral rights – but hundreds of fracking wells right in their neighborhood, on school campuses, street corners, and city blocks? It was hard to believe.
Most of her neighbors signed the gas leases during the recession in 2008. It was hard to turn down the money. But Ranjana and her husband refused.
Chesapeake called them incessantly, trying just about every angle to get them to sign. Eventually they just said, “too bad, we’re drilling anyway.”
At that point all she could do was dispute details – so she went to the Texas Railroad Commission. That’s when she discovered just how far Chesapeake would go to twist the law in their favor.
She says, “I had this sense that the world worked for the most part fairly, and there were rules, and there was respect for them.” After attending that hearing, Ranjana says that belief slipped away.
“We couldn’t protect our air, we couldn’t protect our children. Under the law there was really only one thing that we had the right to protect which was drilling right around our home, that 330 foot exclusion zone, which is the law here. But the driller won the right to drill there without our consent, despite our objections, and without having to compensate us in a Rule 37 exception proceeding.”
She’s still living in her home. She’s still holding strong. She’s still sharing her story.
Now she works to help others challenging the industry. Her documentation and research is available for people dealing with similar challenges. Most of all, she models the world she wants to live in.
Why keep going? When the neighborhood, state, and country is rapidly changing, why keep fighting? She’s had her moments of disillusionment – but Ranjana says, “as a parent, what else can you do?”
What does she ask of us? To join her. Let us make energy use decisions that leave a liveable world for our children that will nourish and sustain them.
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