WATKINS GLEN, New York, USA - The movie Gasland should not be listed in the documentary section of videos on Netflix or at video stores. Instead, it might better be placed alongside all those disaster movies like Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Day After.
Those movies, of course, were works of fiction.
Gasland is not, which makes it sooooo much more frightening. And kind of sickening, too.
It's a tale of an out-of-control gas drilling industry, greed, corporate (and government) corruption and real suffering. The real suffering is not on the part of the corporations or gas drilling industry, of course. It's the people who live where the gas drilling - frequently referred to as 'fracking' - are having their well-water and air poisoned.
If the air you breathe and the water you drink make you sick, that's suffering.
Gasland is the work of independent filmmaker Josh Fox, who lives in the Delaware River basin near where gas drilling companies are getting ready to frack the countryside. In the process, the movie makes it obvious the ground water will be polluted with enough cancer-causing chemicals to make it unsafe to even use to wash a car. Fox had been approached by a gas company, wanting to lease his land to drill.
He had questions. And he made a movie about the answers.
The science is simple. Millions of gallons of water, laced with hundreds of nasty sounding chemicals, are injected into the ground (where shale rock formations exist) to create mini-earthquakes which release natural gas. The gas, in turn, is captured by the drilling companies, and sold as a product. The problems? Jaysus, where to begin?
The gas doesn't all go back up neatly into the collection wells, sometimes it bubbles up right through the ground, poisoning steams and water wells.
The water pumped in - under huge pressures - is toxic and remains so. It too leaches into ground water and even if most of it is recaptured, it has to be trucked away and disposed of. Check your local wastewater facilities and see if fracking water is being dumped there. If it is, try to stop it. Municipal wastewater facilities can't possibly deal with the toxic chemicals in the water. So the chemicals just come out and enter the water system. Your water system.
And what are those toxic chemicals?
Hard to say, exactly.
In 2005, President George Bush, at the urging of (wait for it, here it comes) Vice President Dick Cheney, signed a bill that exempted gas companies from the various environmental laws that would have required them to disclose what they were pumping into the ground.
It was called the Halliburton loophole, a paean to Cheney's years as CEO of that company. Halliburton is big in the gas drilling industry. Very big.
Various agencies and individuals have analyzed fracking water samples and discovered why the gas companies wanted the exemption so much. The toxic-chemical stew is soooooo awful, so ridden with cancer causing chemicals, it should never be used.
As soon as the 2005 federal law was signed, it touched off of wild rush to drill across the U.S., the results of which are documented very well in the movie.
Gasland is a must-see movie: Where else can you watch people light the water coming out of their kitchen taps on fire.
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