The Film Night
Many will have seen Gasland, Josh Fox’s hard-hitting documentary on the shale gas (fracking) revolution. In 2011 this film was nominated for a best documentary Oscar. With Gasland II, Fox explores the rapid expansion of fracking throughout the USA and its political and environmental implications.
Gasland II follows a number of families who lost their water supply and eventually their homes to the gas boom. Writer/director Josh Fox argues that because of political donations, oil and gas companies have managed to overrule government regulators and control politicians.
According to an investigation by Bloomberg News, “…even the stories of poisoned water and flaring water hoses are being forced underground. Over the past few years, gas companies have bought out the properties of home owners whose water was contaminated by fracking fluids, in return for non-disclosure agreements.”
Fracking has already won powerful supporters in the US and UK, as well as grass roots opposition. With the current unrest in Ukraine and possible disruption of gas supplies from Russia to Europe, the call for energy independence is growing louder than arguments for environmental concerns or alternative energy. This film could not be more relevant for voters in the USA, U. and Europe.
Director, Josh Fox, told The Guardian:
“This isn’t just about fracking at all anymore. This is about our system of government, and this is about climate change… If what we are seeing all across America is people able to light their water on fire, why hasn’t our government done anything about it, why have our regulatory agencies failed to protect us?
“We have seen state agencies, local agencies, even the EPA be controlled by politics, and when it becomes a matter of politics, the science just magically disappears,” Fox said. “Investigations get rolled back and buried.”
Film Website: wwww.gaslandthemovie.com for information resources on fracking.
About the Film Night Speakers
Following the film, we had a discussion via Skype with John Fenton, a Wyoming farmer who appears in both films.
John Fenton is a farmer from Pavillion, Wyoming, who appears in both Gasland and Gasland II. There are 24 gas wells on his family farm. His Pavillion community has been subjected to pollution of the local ground water and its air, as well as changes in agricultural land use as a result of local fracking.
In 2010, after it found the water to be contaminated with dangerous chemicals and methane caused by fracking, the EPA warned Pavillion residents not to drink the local water, and advised them to use fans when bathing or washing clothes to avoid the risk of explosion.
John has been involved with campaigns for effective regulation at local, state and national levels. He has become a leading activist in the US against unconventional gas exploration and has recently been on a speaking tour in Australia, where fracking is also a political issue.
Elizabeth Block is a journalist and consultant who specializes in renewable energy. She has been following the shale gas debate very closely. As an opponent of the increased use of fossil fuels, Liz attended the anti-shale gas protest at Balcombe, Sussex, last summer.
Given the huge spread of fracking in the US and its possible use in Britain, Liz feels that it is very important for DAUK members to have a chance to see this documentary and be informed of the political debates of energy vs. environment.
She is an active member of Democrats Abroad UK, the DAUK Film Committee, and is also on the management committee of the Tipping Point Film Fund; a London-based group that supports campaigning documentaries.
Film Resources (2014)
Debunking Gasland Part II : a critical piece from a pro-fracking perspective by Energy-In-Depth (E-I-D) which Josh Fox identifies as a PR firm/lobbying group funded by the American Petroleum Institute His detailed response to their points can be found here .
Interviews with Josh Fox:
Suzanne Goldberg. “Josh Fox’s Gasland II to expose power poltiics of fracking”. Guardian. July 3, 2013.
An interview with Green left
House of Representatives: “Benefits of and Challenges to Energy Access in the 21st Century: Fuel Supply and Infrastructure”. Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. March 6 2014.
Facing the Challenges: Research on Shale Gas Extraction Symposium. Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. Center for Environmental Research and Education. November 25-26, 2013. Videos of presentations by academic researchers on topics including air and water quality, human and animal health, methane migration and climate change as well as social, political and legal aspects are available for viewing here.
NPR’s state impact pages, which cover Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas, offer details and analysis of several issues related to fracking.
Current stories, campaigns and case studies
Campaign in Maryland. Mark Hertsgaard, “The Other Keystone : It’s just as important to stop Cove Point,” The Nation. April 7 2014.
Campaign in Pennsylvania: Pennslyvania Alliancee for Clean Water and Air provides a list of “The Harmed” documenting the accounts individuals and families that have been harmed by fracking (or fracked gas and oil production) in the US.
National campaigns: Americans against Fracking
Stories: Earthquakes and fracking
– Huffington Post. “Ohio Fracking Operation Halted Following Area Earthquakes”. March 12 2014.
– Scientific American. “Ohio Earthquake Likely Caused by Fracking Wastewater”. January 2012.
– NPR, State Impact: Texas “How Oil and Gas Disposal Wells Can Cause Earthquakes”
– NPR State Impact: Oklahoma “Exploring the Link Between Earthquakes and Oil and Gas Disposal Wells”
Health Issues and fracking
Naveena Sadasivam. “In Fracking Fight, a Worry About How Best to Measure Health Threats”. ProPublica Report
Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project serves as an information resource and health monitoring and support agency for residents of Washington County, Pennslyvania, on health issues associated with natural gas drilling in the area and offers monitoring.
State and Local Actions
Los Angeles. Simon Davis-Cohen. “LA City Council Tells Big Oil To Frack Off As residents complain of nosebleeds and headaches, the country’s biggest oil-producing city moves to ban hydraulic fracturing.” The Nation. March 27, 2014.
Within the Democratic Party:
New York: Steve Cohen. “Cuomo’s Careful Approach to Fracking,” Huffington Post. October 8, 2012.
California: California Democratic Party Platform: 2014 Resolution for a moratorium on fracking: : “THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party supports: 1) an immediate moratorium on fracking, with such a moratorium to remain in effect until legislation and regulations are put in place that repeal the exception in the Safe Drinking Water Act, guarantee public health and safety, mitigate the effects on climate change, protect the environment and allow government access and testing of the chemicals used; 2) full disclosure and testing of all sites; and 3) substitution of conservation and renewable sources of energy where practical.”
Political Donations and the fracking lobby:
Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington. “Natural Cash: How the fracking industry fuels Congress.” November 22, 2013.
UK: Natalie Hynde,. “Why we need an outright ban on fracking in the UK,”. The Guardian, February 26 2014.
France: BBC report. “Fracking ban upheld by French court”. October 11 2013.
Ukraine: Naomi Klein. “Why US fracking companies are licking their lips over Ukraine” The Guardian. 10 April 2014.
Disclaimer: The screening of this film does not constitute an endorsement or promotion of the film, nor of any views expressed therein or any association with The Film Committee, DAUK, Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party. Screenings are solely conceived as educational activities: offering an opportunity for members to discuss issues.
Links to other organizations or publications imply neither endorsement of their policies nor any association with the Democratic Party or Democrats Abroad – UK.