Gasland opens when Filmmaker Josh Fox is offered $100,000 for the drilling rights to the gas under his land in Pennsylvania near the New York border. Many people have signed on the dotted line and regretted it. But not Fox. He took off on a cross-country investigation of America to understand what it would mean to open the door to natural gas drilling on his family’s land.
The film that resulted, Gasland, follows Josh as he exposes the environmental effects of drilling and hydraulic fracturing. What he uncovers is nothing new to OGAP members but horrifying to those unfamiliar with what it takes to turn on a light switch or light their stove top: homes with tap water so contaminated you can set it on fire; people with similar chronic illnesses and symptoms in drilling areas across the country; and toxic waste pits that kill livestock and wildlife.
From Dimock, Pennsylvania, to Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to DISH, Texas and Aztec, New Mexico, Fox documents the dark side of America’s energy policy: an oil and gas industry that is exempt from nearly every one of our federal environmental laws the Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act, to name a few. In 2005, Congress, thanks to former Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, exempted hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Hundreds of thousands of wells have been drilled in the last two decades in America’s 34 oil and gas producing states. 90% of all wells are fracked a technique where enormous amounts of water, sand, and chemicals are injected under intense pressures to crack open formations and force the production of oil and gas. Fox estimates that 40 trillion gallons of chemical infused wastewater have been created by the drilling, much of it left seeping in open pits or re-injected into the ground.
Gasland features interviews with ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down by drilling and fracturing; and people like EARTHWORKS board member and MacArthur “Genius Award” recipient Wilma Subra, a chemist from Louisiana who has helped countless communities address toxic pollution. The film also highlights EARTHWORKS’ campaign to pass the FRAC Act to regulate the practice of hydraulic fracturing and require companies to disclose the chemical constituents of fracturing fluids. Go to http://frackaction.earthworks.org to support the FRAC Act today.
Gasland has been featured at film festivals across America and won the Documentary Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Gasland debuts on HBO tonight, June 21, at 9PM. Check it out!
For more information, see Gasland coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and check out Josh Fox on the Daily Show tonight.