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Great doc. From the latest Non-lollipop docs:

Director Josh Fox, in first person narration, approaches the film not as a known documentarian, but as a concerned Pennsylvania resident with a house on a stream off the Delaware River. He's received a letter in the mail which could easily give him close to $100,000. All he's got to do is let America's natural gas industries begin drilling on his nineteen acres of land.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process by which this drilling is done, blasting a mix of water and some 596 mostly unknown chemicals 8,000 feet into the ground, cracking into layers of earth like a mini-earthquake. Using millions of gallons of water per well, 50,000 gas wells have been planned within a few hundred miles of Fox's home, and hundreds of complaints about residents' contaminated well water have been reported since the fracking began.

The threat to underground drinking water goes largely without notice due to a 2005 energy bill pushed through congress by Dick Cheney, which exempts the oil and natural gas industries from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water act and quite a few other acts. Companies like EnCana, Williams, Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation and Chesapeake presently use the fracking technology of Halliburton in 34 states. With his banjo and gas mask on a road trip across the US, Fox finds contaminated drinking water and toxic waste fumes in all these parts of the country, resulting in serious health issues for residents everywhere: headaches, ringing in the ears, disorientation and dizziness, swelling throughout the body, and in more severe cases irreversible brain damage.

I was throttled by quite a few scenes of people lighting their own tap water on fire in this film. That they can take a lighter, turn on their tap, hold the lighter to the running water and witness a minor explosion in their kitchen sink, with zero recognition from gas companies after numerous civilian complaints, is a visual more incriminating than any load of papers full of facts. We often hear that, "The book was better than the movie," but when we're lighting our streams or sinks on fire, when gas wells explode and condensates go fully ablaze, visuals can be ever so convincing.

This is an exploration of modern energy and companies that either struggle with or abuse the process of obtaining it, much the same way that Crude and Crude Impact brought to light our problems with oil, and Burning The Future: Coal In America did with electricity. Fox's film is informative, at times humorous, and in moments deathly serious. But most of all it is a wake up call to the unchecked crimes for which the government simply turns a blind eye.

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Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Heh. :)

I don't think they invented it. I think it's been going on for quite a while. I think what they brought to the table was a new technology, according to the doc, IIRC, a technology that makes the drilling easier -- or perhaps they have a patent on the fracking liquid that is used. The one with the 596 chemicals.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Do a bit of research on Gasland and you'll find that the director has made a propaganda film that doesn't worry too much about facts. It doesn't accurately quote the laws, nor deal with any evidence that doesn't support it's premise.

I know a fair amount about fracking and the natural gas boom because I literally live on top of the Barnett Shale here in Fort Worth and I deal with the gas drilling companies on a regular basis, both professionally and personally.

There have been some problems with a few wells, mostly salt-water disposal wells not the actually fracking of the formations, but Gasland is ridiculously dishonest about most of the "problems" it presents.

People have been lighting well water for years in areas with large volumes of gas in the ground, long before there was ever any drilling. About 90 years ago, one could push a long piece of bamboo into the ground in High Island, Texas and light the other end to create a torch because there was so much methane seeping up through the ground. That's how the drilling companies knew to drilli in that area for oil and natural gas.

In the same way, the oil industry in Pennslyvania began because oil was seeping into a creek and enterprising people started collecting it. It was only later than they got the idea to drill for oil. In Pennslyvanie, as well as many other places, cracks and faults in the earth release gas into the groundwater and even to the surface. Jumping to the conclusion that the drilling company MUST be responsible for gas seeping into well water, like Gasland repeatedly does, if a logically fallacy.

Michael Moore has more integrity.

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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Will, have you seen Gasland?

Fort Worth was one of the towns where Fox spent a large portion of time toward its end.

I've done a bit of poking around. Even between simple poking at IMDB and Wikipedia, the film seems genuinely divided between those who want it to be true and those who don't. Big Business has taken an interest in debunking and discounting Gasland where they can, which is usually regarding some of the bills and laws cited in the film. This is especially true, for whatever reason, at IMDB, where someone began cutting and pasting gas company responses the day the film was released on HBO. It's the only thread on that site he's ever posted in and he's not posted since.

I have a hard time hearing residents' personal responses to their own housing situation when they say they never had a problem before the companies arrived, and then a person from the outside says, "People have been doing this for years." That would make for a lot of liars, and at that, a lot of sick liars. Is it harder to believe that fracking brings with it health risks to residents or that there is a conspiracy of sick residents trying to get money from Big Business?

There are also several credible sources within the film itself going on record about the health risks associated with fracking. Why would they do this if there was really no concern?

I guess I can't speak to anyone's integrity, Michael Moore, Josh Fox or otherwise. There's a dividing line, though, which I find fascinating, between those who love them and those who can't stand them or their films. Fox's film might be a little different than most, however, in that the line is usually a party line that's drawn -- in Gasland, both sides share in the blame.

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I don't find anything "ridiculously dishonest" about a $4.1 million dollar settlement from less than a month ago...

Under Dimock Fracking Settlement, Cabot to Pay $4.1 Million to 19 Families

Residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania who claim their water wells were contaminated because of hydraulic fracturing will divide $4.1 million under a settlement negotiated by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Cabot Oil and Gas Co. The Dimock fracking settlement also binds Cabot to offer and pay to install whole-house gas mitigation devices in each of the 19 affected homes, according to a statement from the DEP.

Cabot also will pay the DEP $500,000 to offset the state’s expense of investigating the stray gas migration cases that have plagued Dimock residents for nearly two years.

Dimock, located in Susquehanna County, was prominently featured in the HBO documentary “GasLand” which detailed the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a natural gas drilling technique in which millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals is injected deep underground under high pressure. In late 2009, a group of Dimock residents sued Cabot for contaminating their wells and hurting the value of their real estate.

While Pennsylvania regulators are touting the Dimock fracking settlement as being in the best interest of the 19 families with contaminated wells, others claim Cabot is getting off too easy. According to The Scranton Times-Tribune, the agreement replaces an earlier enforcement action that called for Cabot to pay for an $11.8 million waterline to the homes. A senior attorney with the National Resources Defense Council told The Times-Tribune that the settlement is a “significant stepping down by the state” from the earlier remedy...

...Julie Sautner, a Dimock fracking victim, complained that affected residents weren’t more involved in the settlement, and that she felt betrayed, PressConnects.com said.

“John Hanger (head of the DEP) made us a promise for a water line, so we all thought that’s what we were going to get,” Sautner said. “That would have been a safe water source for us, and at least it would have made our home whole again.”

Victoria Switzer, who has joined with her neighbors in suing Cabot, told The Times-Tribune that the agreement was a bad deal for the state. “It exonerates the gas companies,” she said. “What a message to democracy how mob mentality rules.”

Ron Carter, another of the litigants, told Reuters that his family would receive $344,000 under the new settlement but he didn’t know whether that would enable him to resume using water from his private well. “I think we got screwed,” said Carter, 71. “If your water isn’t any good, whatever money they give you isn’t going to correct the water.”

Carter pointed out that he has been using water from a system paid for by Cabot but that would be withdrawn within 45 days if he accepts the settlement, Reuters said.

In any case, it doesn’t look like the DEP-Cabot agreement isn’t the end of the Dimock fracking story. Dow Jones is reporting, for example, that the agreement will have no impact on civil lawsuits filed by Dimock residents in the U.S. District Court in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Julie Sautner told PressConnects.com that that lawsuit will likely continue, despite the DEP settlement.

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FULL DISCLOSURE:

- I work for an engineering and environmental services firm in Fort Worth that serves a major gas driller.

- I directly serve both the Energy and Environmental Groups that work with drilling issues in the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford Shale plays, although it is actually a rather small part of our business.

- My firm also is heavily involved in water resources/conservation/treatment which is a big deal in the fracking controversy. I am regularly involved in discussions regarding these issues with experts.

- I have lived in Fort Worth for 21 years and I have closely followed the fracking issues since 2005.

- I have mineral rights for my residential lot here in Fort Worth (only 1/3 acre), so I am aware of issues involved by residents. (No, I haven't received any royalty checks because no wells have been drilled under my property.)

- I grew up closely connected to the oil industry in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area of Texas. I have studied the history of my home region and have some understanding of what occurs naturally in an environment where large quantities of oil and gas are present.

- I grew up in a very polluted region where the refineries polluted almost at will until the early 1970s. There was and is a much higher rate of cancer among many of my peers and previous generations, most likely because of industrial and environmental exposure to dangerous chemicals and carcinogens. I am very grateful for the creation of the EPA because I have been able to see the massive changes environmental legislation can make when it is well-written and properly applied.

- My father worked at a major oil refinery and was a member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) most of his career. He died of mesothelioma in 2005 and had previously fought through non-Hodgkins lymphoma which was likely brought about by massive benzene exposure (elbows deep in benzene every day to clean laboratory instruments).

- On two occasions, I have personally retained the services of an oil and gas attorney to help with lease negotiations with a gas company that was playing hard-ball and assumed I wouldn't challenge them because I'm a "little guy."

- Besides the two personal gas lease negotiations, I have helped family members with negotiations for leases in three other gas plays (Austin Chalk, Brookeland, and the Haynesville Shale). I monitor activity and issues in those plays and advise family members on how to deal with gas drilling issues. On one of the contracts, we negotiated for nearly a year to gain appropriate environmental protections for the property at the cost of potentially much higher signing bonus.

- I live and work around drilling sites and active, productive gas wells. There are approximately 25 completed or permitted wells with 1 mile of my home, on three super pad sites, and work near two super pad sites within 1/4 mile of my office.

As you can see, I have a lot of potential biases both ways and I'm heavily tied to these issues in numerous ways. It is part of my job to know and understand the industry and it is important for my personal life to understand issues of health and safety. I've also had to deal with alarmists and self-appointed agitators who spin half-truths into apocalyptic fantasies that actually undermine real and serious efforts to make positive and productive advances for the protection of public health and the environment.

I'm not just some guy who read a pamphlet or watched a single documentary and is making judgments solely upon one or two sources.

For what it's worth, the gas drilling companies don't have a spotless record. They are in business to maximize profits. However, they are not villains either. Employees of these firms live and work in the regions where they produce and they are highly motivated to protect the environment for personal, as well as business reasons. Bad publicity and disgruntled landowners/communities make it more expensive or impossible to do business.

There have been mistakes and failures in a few instances, but the percentage of problems is remarkably low.

I am always willing to listen to concerns people may have, but Gasland is not, in my opinion, a credible source of information.

Will, have you seen Gasland?

Of course. I wouldn't comment on it the way I did without seeing it. I recorded it off HBO about 5-6 months ago and watched it twice.

Fort Worth was one of the towns where Fox spent a large portion of time toward its end.

Yes. He misrepresented what's going on around here. He was talking about benzene emissions at the well sites and showed a thermal video of gases escaping from a well unit. He made it seem as if the gases were benzene, but the gases are mostly warm air. There are indeed trace amounts of benzene released from well sites, but you probably get more benzene exposure at/near a gas station than you do at a well site. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) monitors and investigates gases released at drilling wells and they have determine levels are within acceptable parameters.

I've done a bit of poking around. Even between simple poking at IMDB and Wikipedia, the film seems genuinely divided between those who want it to be true and those who don't.

It's not a simple matter of true or false. There are some small elements of truth in Gasland, but they are framed in such a way as to sell a particular conclusion at the expense of examining other information which may lead to different conclusions.

Big Business has taken an interest in debunking and discounting Gasland where they can, which is usually regarding some of the bills and laws cited in the film.

Sure. And what people tend to forget in their often rightly-deserved bias against Big Business is that sometimes Big Business might actually be telling you the truth. Last time I checked, HBO is a very big business and documentary filmmaking (especially if you aspire to be a Michael Moore-type of populist filmmaker) can become quite profitable. There is a profit motive all the way around. We need to judge truth not according to our biases or who might profit, but according to fact.

This is especially true, for whatever reason, at IMDB, where someone began cutting and pasting gas company responses the day the film was released on HBO. It's the only thread on that site he's ever posted in and he's not posted since.

And that means absolutely nothing in regard to whether or not the information is true.

I have a hard time hearing residents' personal responses to their own housing situation when they say they never had a problem before the companies arrived, and then a person from the outside says, "People have been doing this for years." That would make for a lot of liars, and at that, a lot of sick liars.

if you only select those in litigation against a drilling company, then you're essentially only going to get one side of the story.

I'm not saying they might not have a legitimate case, however, people have been lighting their well water for years according to some other sources not cited in the film. Furthermore, here in Texas, in certain places you can light well water even in areas where there has been no drilling. This is possible in places with large quantities of gas underground.

Is it harder to believe that fracking brings with it health risks to residents or that there is a conspiracy of sick residents trying to get money from Big Business?

Those are not the only two options.

Unintended water pollution generally comes from three sources:

1.) There have been one or two incidents where the casing (the pipe that encases the hole created by the drill bit going into the earth) cracks, releasing high pressure gas into the water table as the gas travels up the well bore. This is very rare. The actual fracking is done thousands of feet (sometimes more than 18,000 feet) below the water table, so there is no direct contact.

2.) There has been several incidents with high pressure disposal wells where the tainted water from the fracking operation is injected underground into relatively shallow wells, although lower than the local water table. Fortunately, this method of disposal is gradually being phased out in favor of methods to purify and reuse water.

3.) The most common reason for water sources to get polluted is through leakage or damage to the temporary evaporation reservoirs used for the fracking operations. There have been cases where has company contractors have damaged the liners or levees containing the wastewater and the water has soaked into the ground and polluted the water supply. Of course this problem is relatively easy to solve (and gas drillers have enacted procedures to prevent this issue), but it doesn't sound as exciting as some sort of Cheney-conspiracy where mysterious people are out to destroy humankind because of greed. It doesn't make a compelling movie or move environmentally-concerned people to support a political agenda.

There are also several credible sources within the film itself going on record about the health risks associated with fracking. Why would they do this if there was really no concern?

I can't truly know anyone's motivations, but I'm wondering which specific credible sources you are referring to.

I guess I can't speak to anyone's integrity, Michael Moore, Josh Fox or otherwise.
I'm pretty sure about Michael Moore's... I used to like his films until I started checking his facts.

There's a dividing line, though, which I find fascinating, between those who love them and those who can't stand them or their films. Fox's film might be a little different than most, however, in that the line is usually a party line that's drawn -- in Gasland, both sides share in the blame.

In my opinion, that's more illusion than reality. Gasland vilifies landowners who want to produce their minerals as well as gas drillers who supply relatively clean, inexpensive and abundant energy. Neither should be broadly vilified.

However, the director who produces a misleading film should be.

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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FULL DISCLOSURE:

- I work for an engineering and environmental services firm in Fort Worth that serves a major gas driller.

- I directly serve both the Energy and Environmental Groups that work with drilling issues in the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford Shale plays, although it is actually a rather small part of our business.

- My firm also is heavily involved in water resources/conservation/treatment which is a big deal in the fracking controversy. I am regularly involved in discussions regarding these issues with experts.

- I have lived in Fort Worth for 21 years and I have closely followed the fracking issues since 2005.

- I have mineral rights for my residential lot here in Fort Worth (only 1/3 acre), so I am aware of issues involved by residents. (No, I haven't received any royalty checks because no wells have been drilled under my property.)

- I grew up closely connected to the oil industry in the Beaumont/Port Arthur area of Texas. I have studied the history of my home region and have some understanding of what occurs naturally in an environment where large quantities of oil and gas are present.

- I grew up in a very polluted region where the refineries polluted almost at will until the early 1970s. There was and is a much higher rate of cancer among many of my peers and previous generations, most likely because of industrial and environmental exposure to dangerous chemicals and carcinogens. I am very grateful for the creation of the EPA because I have been able to see the massive changes environmental legislation can make when it is well-written and properly applied.

- My father worked at a major oil refinery and was a member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) most of his career. He died of mesothelioma in 2005 and had previously fought through non-Hodgkins lymphoma which was likely brought about by massive benzene exposure (elbows deep in benzene every day to clean laboratory instruments).

- On two occasions, I have personally retained the services of an oil and gas attorney to help with lease negotiations with a gas company that was playing hard-ball and assumed I wouldn't challenge them because I'm a "little guy."

- Besides the two personal gas lease negotiations, I have helped family members with negotiations for leases in three other gas plays (Austin Chalk, Brookeland, and the Haynesville Shale). I monitor activity and issues in those plays and advise family members on how to deal with gas drilling issues. On one of the contracts, we negotiated for nearly a year to gain appropriate environmental protections for the property at the cost of potentially much higher signing bonus.

- I live and work around drilling sites and active, productive gas wells. There are approximately 25 completed or permitted wells with 1 mile of my home, on three super pad sites, and work near two super pad sites within 1/4 mile of my office.

As you can see, I have a lot of potential biases both ways and I'm heavily tied to these issues in numerous ways. It is part of my job to know and understand the industry and it is important for my personal life to understand issues of health and safety. I've also had to deal with alarmists and self-appointed agitators who spin half-truths into apocalyptic fantasies that actually undermine real and serious efforts to make positive and productive advances for the protection of public health and the environment.

The full disclosure isn't really a surprise as it felt you had a stake in the game from your first post. You are very interested in the topic, not so much interested in the topic as discussed in the film. This is why I asked if you'd seen Gasland.

I'm not just some guy who read a pamphlet or watched a single documentary and is making judgments solely upon one or two sources.

No, but according to what you've said so far, you are making judgments according to your knowledge in a localized area. It's an assumption on my part that you haven't travelled to Pennsylvania, Fox's home and where the above settlement that you didn't comment on took place, or Wyoming or Colorado or New York for the hearings. You haven't spoken to the many families Fox did or checked out their claims, and you tend to put words in Fox's mouth and blame him for words that are coming directly from residents who claim they are negatively affected.

I am assuming, too, that you believe I am the guy making judgments based solely on a single documentary with one or two sources. Compared to you and your extensive work in this field, that could be somewhat true. But my judgments are a little less rigid; I saw the film, I was blown away by its interviews and info, I reacted to it and wrote about it for more to see. I tend to believe what people say until they are proven wrong, and when they are as spread out in proximity as they are in Gasland, the idea that there may be some kind of a lying conspiracy involved is a little awkward, unless they were all involved on the Internet before Fox reached them, which is highly unlikely, or unless they are all paid actors, which is even more unlikely. (It's on record that Fox started the film without a film crew and then apparently as the project went along he must have received some better funding for the film because a film crew eventually shows up to help him out.)

If there is a shred of truth from the many, many families interviewed here, something has happened to the interviewees, and most claim it happened after they gave the rights to fracking on their land (although a few have been affected by what's happening off of their land, the folks that never gave any rights away but are still affected). I don't see how this lands squarely on Fox's shoulders.

Fort Worth was one of the towns where Fox spent a large portion of time toward its end.

Yes. He misrepresented what's going on around here. He was talking about benzene emissions at the well sites and showed a thermal video of gases escaping from a well unit. He made it seem as if the gases were benzene, but the gases are mostly warm air. There are indeed trace amounts of benzene released from well sites, but you probably get more benzene exposure at/near a gas station than you do at a well site. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) monitors and investigates gases released at drilling wells and they have determine levels are within acceptable parameters.

Again, and dangit that I returned the DVD already -- maybe you can look this up for me if you've still got your recording tucked away somewhere -- but Fox relayed information that was given to him by a Fort Worth official of some kind. How is it that HE is misinterpreting the info? I would have to watch the scene closely again, but I believe the info came from within the Fort Worth system before Fox began narrating again.

I have a hard time hearing residents' personal responses to their own housing situation when they say they never had a problem before the companies arrived, and then a person from the outside says, "People have been doing this for years." That would make for a lot of liars, and at that, a lot of sick liars.

if you only select those in litigation against a drilling company, then you're essentially only going to get one side of the story.

But you've already discounted these stories and trumped up the film as being all about Fox. Why would one aim to track down the millions of people dealing with these companies who are not directly affected by the health issues, or involved in litigation? That's the story. You've posted three generalized areas where water pollution might come from, but that doesn't automatically discount any of the claims by any of these particular victims.

And that's how information works. If someone tweets that there is a blizzard in New York or a politician shot in Arizona, it's pretty easy to search around and see if that tweet is true. Similarly, the settlement I listed above, which is in only one of the many locations Fox toured (in fact it is the first place he went, IIRC), is evidence that what is pointed out in the documentary at the very least has an element of truth, and is a further probing that claims made there are true.

The knowledge of your local natural gas situation and your general understanding of it are an excellent contribution to the conversation, however you are not specifically talking about the film, nor debunking any of the claims from residents, doctors, health officials or politicians all across the states who are claiming victimization due to problems from the nature of fracking. You asked about citing the credible sources in the film, I'd say cite any one of them. It would be better than simply saying "Fox is a liar who is a bad, bad guy." Quite frankly, I'm sure I could turn on the Rush Limbaugh show and hear that much.

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Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Oil & Gas Companies Petition Against 'Gasland' Oscar Nomination

The Moviefone Blog:

We're all used to seeing the politics of the Oscars – not a year goes by now where studios don't get out and campaign for their films (and in the case of 'The Hurt Locker' producer Nicolas Chartier, actively campaign against other contenders), but it's not nearly as common to see an entire industry outside of Hollywood get in on the act.

That's changed this year. The stage is currently being set for a showdown between the Oil and natural gas industry's Energy in Depth and 'Gasland' director Josh Fox. What's at stake in this modern David vs. Goliath tale? One gold statue named Oscar.

Fox's film, which explores how natural gas drilling may not be as safe as we've all been led to believe, is nominated in the Best Documentary category. The director sets off on an odyssey to learn more about the industry after being asked to lease his land for drilling. What he uncovers is scary stuff –- including drinking water so full of natural gas that it can be set on fire right from the faucet.

Naturally, EiD and the industry they represent aren't thrilled by Fox's film. When an industry is creating flammable drinking water (allegedly), that's not the best thing from a P.R. standpoint. As such, they've set out to confront Fox and 'Gasland,' suggesting that the film doesn't deserve Oscar recognition since it's filled with false information.

Hit the jump for the latest salvo in this ideological war ...

EiD has sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences stating that 'Gasland' should be ineligible for a Best Documentary nod since it's factually inaccurate. EiD's executive director, Lee Fuller, makes the case by stating, "The filmmaker alternates between misstating and outright ignoring basic and verifiable facts related to the impact of these activities on the health and welfare of humans, wildlife and the environment." Strong words, which they then follow up with a list of grievances listed by the time stamp of the film. Check out the letter, courtesy of The New York Times, here.

Undaunted, Fox is defending his film. He insists that the EiD is a "smear organization, a P.R. firm that has nothing to do with reality." Whether that's true or not seems open to debate, but the organization is an industry group formed to fight governmental regulation of natural gas drilling. Fuller, meanwhile, is also the vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He certainly has a vested interest in protecting the industry that puts food on his table.

In the biggest dig in Fuller's letter, he states that 'Gasland' has "value as an expression of stylized fiction." Ouch. Fox responds by saying that everything in his film is "backed up by facts, 100 percent," and has posted a lengthy rebuttal addressing every one of the EiD's issues point by point. Both letters are fascinating reads.

This isn't the first time a controversial documentary has raised issues at the Oscars. The anti–global warming contingent was very vocal in claiming that 'An Inconvenient Truth' wasn't worthy of a nomination (it won anyway); 'Hurricane' also sparked debate (and didn't win an award)...

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Heh Heh. Public interest picks up. I'm at the library. I'm here for a few hours every Saturday before heading over to Aldi's. Yes, Aldi's. I've learned to live EL CHEAPO, leave me alone. Anyway, Gasland has sat on this shelf since it came out whenever that was (about two months). Then the weekend after the letter and two weeks after the Oscar nom, and the DVD is finally checked out. Gotta love that negative publicity.

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Josh Fox Defends Gasland.

From indieWIRE:

In the wake of the Oscar nomination for Josh Fox’s terrific documentary “Gasland,” which I reviewed favorably last year at Sundance, the director is facing more backlash from the gas industry. Fox is an noteworthy provocateur whose first feature “Memorial Day” got less attention but also succeeded at ticking people off. The difference here is that “Memorial Day” was intentionally abrasive, while “Gasland” was designed to make a real difference. Fox has responded to the latest allegations by sending around the following statement:

With the recent Oscar nomination of my documentary film GASLAND, Big Gas and their PR attack machine hit a new low in its blatant disregard for the truth.

In an unprecedented move, an oil and gas industry front group sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saying that the film should be ineligible for best documentary feature.

We are honored and encouraged by the Academy’s nomination. It is terrific to be acknowledged as filmmakers by the film world’s most prestigious honor. But perhaps more than that, I believe that the nomination has provided hope, inspiration and affirmation for the thousands of families out there who are suffering because of the natural gas drilling. The Oscars are about dreams, and I know that for all of us living with the nightmare of gas drilling the nomination provides further proof that someone out there cares.

Now Big Gas wants to take that away, as they have shattered the American dream for so many.

GASLAND exposes the disaster being caused across the U.S. by the largest domestic natural gas drilling campaign history and how the contentious Halliburton-developed drilling technology called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking threatens the water supply of millions.

Fracking is a whole-scale industrialization process that pumps millions of gallons of toxic material directly into the ground. Thousands of documented contamination cases show the harmful chemicals used have been turning up in people’s water supplies in fracking areas all over the map.

We stand behind the testimonials, facts, science and investigative journalism in the film 100 percent. We have issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the group’s claims (“Affirming Gasland”), posted on our website: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com.

It’s not just us they’re after. The gas industry goes after anyone who tries to punch a hole in their lie. Last week the same pro-drilling group, Energy in Depth (EID), attacked an investigative piece on drilling pollution by ProPublica, the highly credible public interest journalism organization.

And just last week, T. Boone Pickens, the most visible promoter of gas fracking, went on The Daily Show claiming that he personally has fracked over 3,000 wells and never witnessed any contamination cases, even when Jon Stewart asked him about GASLAND point blank. He simply stated over and over again the industry lie, that fracking is safe. Not a single word of acknowledgement, or responsibility for the claims of thousands and the threat posed to millions.

The gas industry believes it can create a new reality in which their nationwide onshore drilling campaign isn’t a disaster. But no amount of PR money or slick ads can keep the stories of contamination coming from thousands of Americans from being any less true.

On Monday, Congressional investigators called out frackers for pumping millions of gallons of diesel fuel directly into the ground, exposing drinking water sources to benzene and other carcinogens. This makes EID’s specious and misleading attack on the science and data in GASLAND especially ironic since Halliburton stonewalled Congressman Henry Waxman’s investigation into fracking, refusing to provide data on their use of diesel and other harmful chemicals injected in the fracking process.

There are major watershed areas providing water to millions of Americans that are at risk here, including the watershed areas for New York City and Philadelphia. The catastrophe has been widely covered not only in GASLAND, but also by hundreds of news stories, films and TV segments. This is a moment of crisis that cannot be understated.

Even before its release, the power of the film was not lost on the industry. In the March 24th edition of the Oil and Gas Journal, Skip Horvath, the president of the Natural Gas Supply Association said that GASLAND is “well done. It holds people’s attention. And it could block our industry.”

GASLAND was seen by millions and I personally toured with the film to over 100 cities. In affected areas, people came to the screenings with their contaminated water samples in tow. They came to have the truth they know shared and confirmed

As Maurice D. Hinchey, U.S. Representative (NY-22) recently said, “Thanks to GASLAND and the millions of grassroots activists across the country, we finally have a counterweight to the influence of the oil and gas industry in our nation’s capital.”

Big Gas is blocking the truth in their pursuit of hundreds of billions of dollars of profit. Their clear goal is to ensure our nation remains addicted to fossil fuels for the rest of this century. They seek to stifle the development of truly renewable energy.

They’re playing dirty in more ways than one, attacking the film and the testimonials and science in it instead of taking responsibility and addressing the contamination, destruction and harm that they are creating. I now know how the people in my documentary feel, to have the things they know to be true and the questions they are raising so blatantly discounted and smeared. It is truly unfortunate that the gas-drilling industry continues to deny what is so obvious to Americans living in gaslands across the nation.

Josh Fox

Director, GASLAND

First comment directly below the article is interesting as well.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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If anyone sees this, please listen about mid-way through for what sounds like a Radiohead song, one I've never heard before. I'd like to know what it is.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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  • 1 month later...

From the Wall Street Journal:

Texas Cites EPA Error in Testing of Wells

AUSTIN, Texas—In an ongoing bout between Texas and the Environmental Protection Agency over the safety of gas drilling, the Lone Star State claimed a victory Tuesday and took the opportunity to criticize the federal agency.

Texas regulators said that extensive testing showed that flammable water wells west of Fort Worth were not contaminated by nearby gas drilling, as the EPA maintained. Instead, they said, evidence shows that the gas in a shallow water aquifer was migrating up from a rock formation directly underneath it.

The gas had a different "geochemical fingerprint" from gas found and extracted a mile lower in the Barnett shale rock formation, Texas officials said.

"This is an example of overreaching at its worst," said Michael Williams, one of three elected commissioners who oversee oil and gas drilling. The EPA "has a built-in bias against the fossil fuel energy industry."

Tuesday's finding by Texas officials comes about three months after an EPA order to shut down the gas wells to prevent two houses from exploding.

At the time, the EPA criticized the state agency that regulates drilling, the Texas Railroad Commission, for failing to address the situation.

In a written statement, the EPA responded that it is standing by its belief that gas drilling contributed to the contamination and said it would not comply with Texas' request to rescind its earlier order.

The state finding "is not supported by EPA's independent, scientific investigation," the agency wrote.

That didn't stop Texas officials from alleging that the federal government peddled shoddy science. "Do your job based on facts," Jim Keffer, chairman of the Texas House of Representatives energy committee, said in an interview after speaking at the hearing. "Don't go out and yell fire in a crowded theater."

Texas officials said the EPA used incomplete testing to determine that the gas found in the water wells was identical to gas found a mile below where Range Resources Corp. was cracking open shale rocks. Range, which has continued to operate the wells, is fighting the EPA in federal court to overturn the order that declared that its operations were endangering local residents and shut its wells.

"We will continue to respect the legal process and expect the EPA to rescind their order now that there is definitive scientific evidence of the natural cause of this issue and safety of residents," said Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella.

More here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704461304576216683622068802.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlines

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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  • 2 months later...

The videos below (basically the same video, but hosted on two different sites) have been deleted at the behest of the filmmaker, who claimed a copyright infringement based on the fact that something like 25 seconds from his film were used here. (The video-maker claims "fair use", of course, and is getting his own lawyers on the case.) But the bulk of the video contained clips from a Q&A where the director basically admitted that there have been reports of flammable water going back as far as the 1930s, though he considers this "irrelevant" to his argument that the flammable water depicted in his film can be blamed on developments in the last few years.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 1 month later...

Fort Worth was one of the towns where Fox spent a large portion of time toward its end.

Yes. He misrepresented what's going on around here. He was talking about benzene emissions at the well sites and showed a thermal video of gases escaping from a well unit. He made it seem as if the gases were benzene, but the gases are mostly warm air. There are indeed trace amounts of benzene released from well sites, but you probably get more benzene exposure at/near a gas station than you do at a well site. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) monitors and investigates gases released at drilling wells and they have determine levels are within acceptable parameters.

Again, and dangit that I returned the DVD already -- maybe you can look this up for me if you've still got your recording tucked away somewhere -- but Fox relayed information that was given to him by a Fort Worth official of some kind. How is it that HE is misinterpreting the info? I would have to watch the scene closely again, but I believe the info came from within the Fort Worth system before Fox began narrating again..

The City of Fort Worth commissioned an independent study of air quality around wells throughout the city and determined that there were higher levels of pollution around five wells than anticipated, but there was no health risk to the public.

The final report was released today.

The science is coming in and it refutes the allegations of Gasland. It's absolutely no surprise to me, but then again, I knew Gasland was propaganda from the beginning. Gasland offered no science, relied on selective testimonies, relied on public ignorance of many aspects of the technology, and gains its limited credibility from the spectacle of people lighting well water from their taps, even though that is usually a result of natural pollution in a petroleum-rich region.

Edited by TexasWill

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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  • 1 month later...

From the Natural Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board:

On May 5, 2011, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu charged the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Natural Gas Subcommittee to make recommendations to improve the safety and environmental performance of natural gas hydraulic fracturing from shale formations.

President Obama directed Secretary Chu to form the Natural Gas Subcommittee as part of the President’s "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future" - a comprehensive plan to reduce America's oil dependence, save consumers money, and make our country the leader in clean energy industries. The Subcommittee's task is defined as:

"The Subcommittee will work to identify, within 90 days, any immediate steps that can be taken to

improve the safety and environmental performance of fracking and to develop, within six months,

consensus recommended advice to the agencies on practices for shale extraction to ensure the

protection of public health and the environment." (Blueprint, page 13)

The Natural Gas Subcommittee met for the first time on May 18, 2011. Subsequently, it has conducted public meetings on June 1-2, June 13, June 28, and July 13, to gather information and discuss issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing. Details on those meetings can be found in the Resources section of this website. As of July 15, 2011, the Department of Energy has received over 25,000 public comments. A summary of those comments is now available.

The Natural Gas Subcommittee's initial report is expected on August 18, 2011, and its final report on November 18, 2011.

The Draft 90-Day Report is Available For Review Here

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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  • 10 months later...

Now there's

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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  • 7 months later...

Gas bags

Fifty years or so after coffee became popular in Sweden, King Gustav III decided to take extreme action against this menace to the public health. In 1746, the monarch issued a royal edict warning citizens of the obvious dangers of this known poison. First he heavily taxed coffee, then he banned it outright. People kept drinking it anyway.

To turn the public against the caffeine threat once and for all, he ordered up an experiment involving two identical twins, both of them condemned prisoners. One would be forced to drink three pots of tea a day; the other, three pots of coffee. Two doctors were assigned to supervise. One doctor died. The other doctor died. Poor King Gustav himself was assassinated. At length the tea drinker died, at age 83. The coffee drinker? He survived them all. The coffee ban kept getting renewed anyway, until the 1820s.

Fracking looks more and more like the coffee of the 21st century.

Everyone knows that hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas from shale deposits far beneath’s the earth’s surface is evil. It’s poisoning the water supply, it’s killing the cattle and it’s making cancer rates spike.

Except no one can show that any of these claims are true. When a study comes up negative, though, it leads only to . . . more studies. Because “We can’t find anything wrong with it” can’t be the right answer. . . .

Kyle Smith, New York Post, January 12

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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