This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.
DALLAS—Propped up on a hospital bed, Taylor Ishee listened as his mother shared a conviction that choked her up. His rare cancer had a cause, she believes, and it wasn’t genetics.
Others in Texas have drawn the same conclusions about their confounding illnesses. Jana DeGrand, who suffered a heart attack and needed both her gallbladder and her appendix removed. Rebecca Williams, fighting off unexplained rashes, sharp headaches and repeated bouts of pneumonia. Maile Bush, who needed surgery for a sinus infection four rounds of antibiotics couldn’t heal. Annette Wilkes, whose own severe sinus infections were followed by two autoimmune diseases.
They all lived for years atop the gas-rich Barnett Shale in North Texas, birthplace of modern hydraulic fracturing. And they all believe exposure to natural gas development triggered their health problems.
“I’ve been trying to sell my house,” said Williams, a registered nurse, “because I’ve got to get out of here or I’m going to die.”
Texas regulators and politicians have shrugged off such complaints for years. The leap from suspected environmental exposure to definitive proof of harm is a difficult one, and they insist they’ve found no cause for concern. Officials in other states have said the same thing as hydraulic fracturing &mda…