Gasland

Gasland: Hydraulic Fracturing’s Impact on Earth

Gas companies are now offering to pay homeowners up to $100,000 to drill on their properties. This can be a pretty enticing offer and has caused many people in the United States to oblige. However, what if that meant your own tap water was murky and polluted? What if you or your family began experiencing unexplainable illnesses? How about your livestock and vegetation dying off due to pools of toxic waste – is this worth any amount of money?

Gasland was released in 2010 and Gasland II in 2014. These films have made a large impact in just a short amount of time. They helped spark a whole anti-fracking movement along with officials banning the practice in certain states, and many organizations forming to help stop this procedure.

Josh Fox decided to do some investigating before accepting the $100,000 and embarked on a road trip around the country documenting all of these issues in his film titled Gasland. The process that is used is called Hydraulic Fracturing, also known as fracking. How does fracking work? According to an article from BBC, sand, water, and chemicals are blasted under the earth’s surface to extract gas and oil through shale rock. Although this is a method of obtaining resources, it is proven dangerous to people and the environment, which the film digs into.

Fox discovers that this procedure is exempt from the Bush-Cheney Energy Policy Act of 2005 which includes the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act. The film explores 24 different states with similar problems. Along with sand, 596 chemicals including carcinogens (lead, mercury, radium, methanol, etc), and one to seven million gallons of water have been mixed together and used during the fracking process. “Fox estimates that 40 trillion gallons of chemically infused water have been created by the drilling.” (HBO) Families are able to turn on their faucet, collect water in a cup and find it to be unnatural colors.

Photo Source: U.S. News

Photo Source: U.S. News

Residents come to find that some combination of chemicals blasted down into their land actually turns their drinking water flammable. Fox watches in amazement as one resident lights his own water on fire. Scientist Wilma Subra is concerned about the arsenic poisoning that can result from drinking this water. If that is not enough information to make people wary, John Hanger, a secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection refuses to drink the tap water, yet claims it is safe for consumption (HBO).  

Photo Source: Gasland

Photo Source: Gasland

Another alarming side effect have been small earthquakes. BBC writes that the “Fracking process can cause small earth tremors. Two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude hit the Blackpool area in 2011 following fracking.” Although they don’t cause damages and are minor, it is still alarming that something man-made is causing what should be solely natural disasters.

When offered the compensation, the gas companies have people sign a nondisclosure to prevent them from speaking about their experiences, or filing any lawsuits against them which shows something in itself. An article by U.S. News and World Report discusses the idea that not all fracturing is harmful to this extent if done right – it can be safely regulated and not impact drinking water. Supporters of fracking state that it has “helped to drop oil prices to four-year lows – a boon for manufacturing – and added a useful new lever to U.S. foreign policy. (U.S. News) However, the environmental concerns were enough for many communities to take action. “Across the United States more than 400 cities, towns, counties, districts, and states have attempted to ban fracking or practices associated with fracking.” (Boston Globe)

This issue has become widely known to the public, there are still plenty of people who aren’t aware of the dangers fracking brings to humans, animals and the environment, and this controversial issue needs to continue to be further explored.

 

Ways you can REACT to Gasland:

1.REDUCE use of oil. Instead of driving a car, try biking, walking, taking public transportation. If you do need to drive, start carpooling.

2.KNOW the facts. Visit tarsandsaction.org and keystone-xl.com

3.PETITION and let your community’s voice be heard. petitions.whitehouse.gov/ 

 

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