Tuesday, March 05, 2013

"GasLand" makes the case against fracking for natural gas

The HBO documentary “Gasland” (2010), by Josh Fox, certainly lays out the dangers to American rural landowners and farmers as they are approached by energy companies for drilling rights to recover natural gas by fracturing (or fracking).  This is the non-fiction side of “Promised Land” (Jan. 2, 2013). 
The film starts in northeastern Pennsylvania, in the Poconos, as a farmer contemplates a $100000 offer for drilling rights.  He is soon told that he must  never discuss the terms or anything about the lease publicly.  He starts investigating.  The film moves into examining the danger particularly to the water supply.  There is a scene where water running from a home faucet is ignited, as the natural gas coming out with it – mostly methane – can sustain a flash and even an orange flame, that even singes the hair on one man’s hand and forearm.  The film makes the point that any homes in the area could fill with gas and explode, although this is not something that I have heard has really happened.
The film moves on to Colorado, and then to the Dallas-Fort Worth area (focusing on a town in Denton County named “Dish”), and then to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.  The film points out the tremendous amount of energy consumed and carbon emitted in building and sustaining the wells built into the shale formation (in the East, it’s Marcellus Shale).  It predicts that many areas of the country will be destroyed, although there is no mention specifically of mountaintop removal.  It would seem that gas drilling is a lot cleaner than coal mining.
The Bush administration greatly relaxed the rules on fracking, partly because of Dick Cheney’s investment in Halliburton.
The official site is here.
Natural Gas Now has a YouTube video replying to the points in this film:

The filmmaker has been arrested at demonstrations, and apparently the film showed at Sundance in 2011. 

The safety of fracking would appear to be critical, because natural gas (and shale and tar sands) are the key to energy independence for the US and Canada.

Check out the National Geographic March 2013 issue, "America Strikes Oil: The Promise and Risk of Fracking", article on North Dakota oil by Edwin Dobb.
For today's short film, look for "America's Water Crisis" on YouTube, 30 min, from Vice Media and director Emerson Rosenthal.  Visit my "Films on major threats to freedom" blog March 6 for a review.  

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