A couple months now removed from the splashy premiere of Josh Fox’s GasLand on HBO, the network appears to be once again ramping up its PR and booking machine associated with selling the on-demand version of the film – with Fox traveling all across the country to hold additional screenings and snapping up follow-up media interviews wherever he goes.
So as Fox and Co. continue their campaign to create an alternate history with respect to a commonly used energy technology that is, in a modern context, responsible for transforming the energy outlook of the United States and the world, we here at EID continue to do what we can to balance their facts fiction with objective facts. Here’s a brief update of what’s been going down recently.
Pittsburgh, PA (Aug. 27)
This past weekend, with the help of local anti-energy activist and Pittsburgh councilman Doug Shields, Fox was on hand for a public screening of GasLand in Frick Park – a 600-acre spot in the heart of Pittsburgh created in 1919 thanks to a $2 million grant from Henry Clay Frick. In case you were wondering, Frick was a Pittsburgh native who made his living in the coal and steel business (Frick and Andrew Carnegie merged companies to create what is today known as U.S. Steel – a huge supporter of the Marcellus). Here’s how our friends over at the Marcellus Shale Coalition responded to the Fox visit:
“…key technologies needed to seize on the opportunities of the Marcellus have been around for a long time, and are aggressively regulated by DEP. Maybe that’s why Secretary Hanger, the state’s top environmental watchdog, took such exception to Josh Fox’s distortions in GasLand, calling him a ‘propagandist,’ and suggesting the film is ‘a deliberately false presentation for dramatic effect.’” (WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh)
Aspen, CO (Aug. 26)
Of course, before he got to Pittsburgh, Fox was making his way around friendly Aspen, Colo. – holding a screening/rally/séance at the Wheeler Opera House in town. Wondering who this “Wheeler” fellow is? Well, he too made a few bucks in the mining industry. And like Frick, he had the community in mind when he built the building that is today the Wheeling Opera House. Following this screening, Lee Fuller, the executive director of EID set the record straight on hydraulic fracturing in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:
Your readers should understand that hydraulic fracturing has been safely used nationwide over 1.1 million times since it first came into commercial use in 1949. It’s a technology that has never contaminated groundwater, a fact reinforced by top EPA officials as recently as this year. Colorado’s top oil and gas regulator, David Neslin, also confirms “there has been no verified instance of harm to groundwater caused by hydraulic fracturing in Colorado.”
And while Fox claims that “a huge array of chemicals” are used in the fracturing process, the truth is these fluids are composed almost entirely of water and sand — with a small portion of additives (0.05 percent of the mix) used to kill bacteria and reduce friction. These additives can be commonly found in one’s kitchen cupboard and in every day food products, and a list of these are required by federal law to be available at every well site in the nation. And in Colorado, state regulations mandate that operators maintain a precise chemical inventory for each and every well.
Lander and Pinedale, WY (Aug. 5 and 6)
Earlier this month, Fox made two stops in Wyoming, one in the small town of Lander, the other in Pinedale. Once again, EID took to the pages of the local papers to set the record straight – no easy task in 250 words or less. Here’s what EID ended up placing in the Sublette Examiner and Pinedale Roundup:
From the Sublette Examiner:
To watch the “GasLand” documentary is to better understand how it only takes a few well-placed distortions and some nifty intellectual sleight-of-hand to completely rewrite the history on an energy technology known as hydraulic fracturing, which has been used for more than 60 years, not just for the purpose of developing oil and gas wells but to tap geothermal deposits, drill water wells and even by EPA to clean-up Superfund sites… Of course, none of that history comes through in “GasLand.” Earlier this summer, Energy In Depth issued a 4,000-word, point-by-point rebuttal of some of the film’s more specious and sensational claims, and that document remains available on our Web site –energyindepth.org. Watch the film as many times as you like. But don’t think for a second you’re getting the whole truth – not without reading our rebuttal first.
Two days later, the Pinedale Roundup:
I didn’t have the chance to attend the viewing of GasLand at the Pinedale library this past Friday night, but one hopes for accuracy’s sake the film was screened in the “fiction and fantasy” section of the building…Let’s start with the fiction: A commonly used energy technology called hydraulic fracturing is responsible for flammable faucets all throughout the west? Not according to government scientists who collected the water, tested the samples and concluded that methane in the water had nothing at all to do with oil and gas development. Natural gas exploration caused a massive fish kill in Dunkard Creek in Pennsylvania? Not according to the EPA, which issued a report this year identifying water discharges from coal mines as the culprit in that case. The pronghorn antelope is an endangered species in Wyoming? Someone should tell that to Game and Fish – if that were true, maybe there shouldn’t be a hunting season for it.
Of course, EID doesn’t have HBO’s kind of money – so responding to every GasLand showing might prove to be a bit tough. But we’re certainly going to try. Should you hear of a screening in your neighborhood/county, give us a heads up, we’ll do our best to separate the facts from fiction.