A Texas Rebel's Fight for Her Land

How a down-on-her-luck single mother in a ramshackle trailer reinvented herself as the bright, bold, unapologetically outrageous voice of the antifracking movement

by Suzanna Andrews
Photograph: Dan Winters

Back at home, Adam jokes that he is a big supporter of fracking, teasing his “ninja mom,” as he has called her. At 18, he is already in his third year of college. Wilson’s older son, Frank, lives in Dallas. “I tell my kids that they both deserve a perfect mother and I am sorry I wasn’t one,” she says, adding that she’s awed they’re not bitter. “I learned a lot from them—that you make your peace about your past and you move on.” And then one day, after a long struggle, it all comes together. “Have you seen my tattoo?” Wilson asks. She got it—and the house—in 2011, when Earthworks made her its full-time organizer for Texas OGAP. She pulls her hair away to reveal the back of her neck and a tattoo of an enormous dragonfly—“the symbol of transformation,” she says.

Suzanna Andrews is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Are you on the frack track? The rush is onto mine the estimated 750 trillion cubic feet of natural gas locked in basins (depressions) throughout the country. Thanks to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” drilling has proliferated over the past decade. Here are the current—and future—shale gas and oil “plays” in the continental United States. To learn more about activity in your area, go to eia.gov/state.

How Fracking Affects You Can it make you rich? Can it make you sick? Does it cause earthquakes? For answers to these and other questions, go to more.com/fracking

Do You Own What’s Under Your Home? When you buy property—whether a primary or secondary home, whether in a suburban, rural or vacation area—don’t assume you are also buying whatever lies beneath the ground, warns New York real estate and environmental lawyer Elisabeth Radow. Another party may own the mineral rights, meaning there’s a chance that gas or oil could be extracted from your land without your consent, affecting your property value for years while someone else collects the royalties. To find out what steps you should take before you buy—or how to check on the status of your current property—go to more.com/mineralrights.

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Originally published in the September 2013 issue

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