I had heard about the documentary Gasland for a while and didn’t pay much attention, I first heard about the film on NPR and then I saw Josh Fox, who made the film, on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Mr. Fox showed a video clip of someone’s tap water catching on fire, you can see a clip at the link below:
That little clip was enough to get me to check out the film which I caught On Demand, through cable on HBO and yes Comcast that was a shameless plug, how about a little free cable. I watched the documentary and was really impressed with Josh Fox and his story. Fox was obviously not a filmmaker and that shows particularly early on in the story. However, the deeper he digs into what’s going on, the better his film work and story-telling become. Essentially Mr. Fox was offered a decent sum of money to give up the gas rights to his property and unlike most of us he became suspicious of easy money and promises of no adverse environmental effects. The film is basically about his initial quest to learn more about the offer and proceeds into an in-depth investigation of a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. On a side note fracking serves as the alternate universe substitute for the word fucking on Battlestar Gallactica and the irony of being fracked by big gas companies didn’t escape me as I watched the film.
Fracking, not in the Battlestar Gallactica sense – that’s a talk for your parents to handle, is a process by which natural gas companies drill down through the ground into pockets of natural gas not previously accessible. Then high pressure water and chemicals are pumped down into the ground to fracture the rock and release the gas helping it flow up through the well to be captured. According to the companies that do this, the chemicals they use are safe, and there is no contamination of nearby drinking water wells. However Josh Fox shows us this just isn’t so and visits folks who have some of the nastiest water you’ve ever seen including some that is actually flammable when it comes out of the taps. Other people show how their cats, dogs and horses are getting ill and losing their hair and talk about the very real fear that their families will get ill or their house will blow up from the gas in the water lines.
Our old friend Dick Cheney and Haliburton are involved, and to quote the promotional site for the film we find out the following: “In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.”
The worst part of the loophole is that it means that there is no regulatory agency even looking at this issue and it allows the companies involved, Haliburton included, to poison people’s drinking supply and the people impacted have nowhere to go, enter Josh Fox and his film. A lot of the folks involved truly looked scared and some have very definite proof of what these companies are doing in their heartless pursuit of profits as some of the companies have paid for alternate water sources of water indefinitely. These sources include bringing in tankers of water to fill giant cisterns or full industrial level filtration systems.
The scariest part of this issue is the sheer area of the United States that has the type of rock that possess the natural gas. The areas include some of the largest watersheds in the Northeast including the drinking water supply for New York City. Take a look at the trailer below and then the link for the movie’s promotional website below that:
The promotional site:
And finally take the time and see Gasland