Coming soon to an art house theater near you is… GASLAND, winner of the Special Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. From the GASLAND official website:
When filmmaker Josh Fox discovers that Natural Gas drilling is coming to his area—the Catskillls/Poconos region of Upstate New York and Pennsylvania, he sets off on a 24 state journey to uncover the deep consequences of the United States’ natural gas drilling boom. What he uncovers is truly shocking—water that can be lit on fire right out of the sink, chronically ill residents of drilling areas from disparate locations in the US all with the same mysterious symptoms, huge pools of toxic waste that kill cattle and vegetation well blowouts and huge gas explosions consistently covered up by state and federal regulatory agencies. These are just a few of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND.
Michael Moore, writer/producer of Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, and Capitalism: A Love Story among others, has pioneered this kind of “documentary” that’s long on innuendo and short on facts, perfecting it as an art. It seems Mr. Moore has spawned imitators, including Josh Fox.
The drumbeat will only grow louder from the anti-drilling movement. Their two-pronged attack is to claim: 1) Hydraulic fracturing as a mining technique is unsafe, and 2) Your water will become contaminated with nasty chemicals and/or methane gas if there’s a drill anywhere near you. Both claims are false.
Look, no one wants people’s water to become polluted, or livestock to become ill, or water to become contaminated. Painting energy companies as the Great Satan, as films like this try to do, is simply childish and simplistic at best. There are safeguards in place. Drilling IS happening in a lot of places—with no negative consequences. We need to stay vigilant, of course. But drilling can happen safely, and it should. To ban all natural gas drilling and hydrofracking as a technique is unreasonable.