• Environmental Health Project

Personal Narrative: The Joseph Family

The Joseph’s story is one of forced decisions. They question whether they can stay in a community rapidly changing from gas development. Theirs is also a story of respect--as an unfulfilled promise from the local gas industry, in sharp contrast to how this family shows respect for their land and community.

The Joseph family has a strong connection to two homes. The first was built in 1853 with crooked walls and no indoor plumbing. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph raised their children there; it’s now the home of their youngest daughter. The Josephs built the second house in 2014 as their retirement home. Now, they and their daughter debate whether they can stay in either place.

In 2013, nearby fracking—along with traffic and negative interactions with the gas company—prompted Mr. and Mrs. Joseph to build their retirement home and move from the 1853 house. Not long after, the gas company, Antero, built this compressor station about ½ mile from their new home.

The Long Compressor Station sits about a half mile from their home. Many neighbors, like these, live just as close or closer. But the Josephs describe the majority of their community as merely “peeking out from behind the curtains” when it comes to getting actively involved. However, some neighbors quietly share with the family their frustrations with the compressor, telling them that “pictures rattle on the walls” of their house when the engines are running hard.

On a driving tour around their area, the family points out local landmarks and painful new changes, like the right-of-way for the coming Rover Pipeline, seen thru the car windows. The family puts gas development in the context of the Bible, which they feel directs them to be “stewards of the land.”

At the compressor stations and well pads that abound in the vicinity of their home, signs command gas workers to RESPECT LOCAL RESIDENTS. Mrs. Joseph wondered outloud, “Respect… Do they even know what that means?”

The driving tour comes to a halt to rescue a turtle from the center of the road. The family shows equal compassion for wild animals as they do domestic, telling sweet stories of a tiny newborn cow they named “Twiggy,” and heart-wrenching ones of a pet horse who they were forced to put down after he became helplessly mired in the soft mud along a gas pipeline in their pasture.