Poisoning the Well
Josh Fox’s HBO documentary Gasland uncovers the frightening misconceptions about hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), a common gas industry practice that injects water, sand, and “proprietary chemicals” deep into wells to extract natural gas from shale deposits. The natural gas industry engages in fracking in 34 states and claims the process “is safe and has resulted in few contamination accidents” and that regulation is sufficient. Gasland tells a different story about the controversial drilling boom.
Gas companies access the valuable underground shale deposits by offering homeowners “gas leases,” agreements that bring these gas wells into people’s backyards for large sums of money. An unnamed drilling company offered Fox $100,000 to lease his family land, about 20 acres sitting on “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas” that’s part of the New York watershed. Fox declined the offer and started investigating the deceptively simple terms of the lease only to discover a disturbing contradiction between industry and environmentalists.
Although natural gas is touted as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuel and a bridge to renewable energy, Fox documented a country-wide trend of rising water and air toxicity, declining health of residents and animals, and hazardous explosive conditions inside homes - including flammable tap water. His investigation unraveled the government-industrial relationship known as the Halliburton Loophole, which specifically exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act of 2005, designates fracking fluid ingredients a "trade secret," and essentially serves as the legal foundation of the drilling boom. US oil and gas producers claim they are not skirting federal law, but public interest and media attention have induced some heavy-handed responses from insiders and independents alike. Most telling is the report “Debunking Gasland" put out by the public relations firm Energy In Depth, which is funded by the American Petroleum Institute. The report outlines the movie’s “egregious inaccuracies” such as the amount and type of chemicals injected, and offers “accuracy, attention to detail, and original reporting.”
Currently, industry representatives are weighing the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals, or FRAC Act, that would allow the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate fracking and disclose the contents of fracturing fluid to state regulators. To get involved, you can host screenings of Gasland, find a local organization working to curtail drilling, read the FRAC Act, get your water tested and share you story all at http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/.Tweet