Absaroka TIM Dispatches from the Field 9/21 Pavillion, Wyoming
I came to Pavillion, Wyoming thinking that I knew about the place from watching the documentary Gasland and reading High Country News.
I knew about the terrible problems with air and water pollution, that the residents couldn’t drink their water and industry had told them it was just fine. It turns out I didn’t know much. Things get more personal when you get to know folks a little bit too. I met some of the locals and was fortunate to meet John and Cathy Fenton, their son and high-spirited dog, Hoss. John and his brothers built their comfortable home with a Western porch that overlooks the pastureland, Owl Creek Mountains, and part of the Wind River Range. We hit it off right away and talked well past supper. Yesterday, I traveled around the pastures with John, learning about all the ranchers in this area have been through and how hydraulic fracturing for natural gas has changed the way of life for an entire community. None of the ranching families here can drink their water and the air is unfit to breathe because of the emissions from the gas field. Health problems are showing up too – human health. No one listens when animals drop dead en mass in a field. It’s mind-boggling that this is happening – in America! It was hard to say goodbye to my new friends the Fentons. I’m able to leave and they must stay and fight for their way of life and core beliefs. These are some of the strongest people I’ve ever met.