Sunday, July 11, 2010


What could be more important than water? The natural gas industry thinks that money is.  They have seduced many citizens in depressed regions of the country with seams of natural gas buried deep within its lands to sign leases that give oil companies the rights to mine the gas in their back yards.  Up here, in the Delaware River watershed, many activists are deeply opposed to it, and are rallying to pass legislature that will prevent drilling until more is known about the health, safety, and environmental impact.

Josh Fox and leaseholder of gas drilling watch 
his water catch on fire

The problem is with local governments who never saw anything wrong with money coming into the regions.  The problem is with state governments whose environmental regulatory agencies have been decimated by budget cuts.  And of course, the problem is with federal government.  The Energy Act of 2005 exempted natural gas drilling from following the laws of Clean Water, Clean Air, etc.

Josh Fox is the director of the movie.  His muckraking is pretty effective, based on the screening I attended in Honesdale last week at the Episcopal Church.  It was standing room only, with people applauding the panel discussion leaders afterward.  The links on the Gasland website are activists who are battling with gas drillers.

Please go there and offer any support you can, especially in terms of writing, phoning, and visiting your representatives in government about this important issue.

As for the filmmaking, I wish it were less  influenced by Michael Moore, in those scenes  where the hapless filmmaker tries to interview people on the opposite side of his issue who turn him away.  When he finally does land an interview with a state agency official, the results are excellent, and remind you of the opposite side's point of view.   The original impulse to fund natural gas was not bad.  It just happens to be as filthy, short term, and patently unfair to the people who live near the drilling as any other kind of fossil fuel mine or oil rig. 

The victims in the film  who say that they don't recognize their country are heart broken and heart breaking.  A cattle rancher in Wyoming turns to the camera and says directly to anyone who is listening, this is not just happening to you, it is happening to me.  You are not alone.

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