Anti-Fracking Film “Gasland” Gets Oscar Nomination

  • Published on January 25th, 2011

The folks from big oil must be gnashing their teeth right now, as the film that takes them to task for trashing rural America has been nominated for a Best Documentary Academy Award.

Gasland” has already won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

This is the film where the homeowner sets his own tapwater on fire as it comes out of the faucet. “Fracking” is slang for the hydraulic fracturing that breaks up shale deposits deep underground, allowing methane to be pumped out as natural gas… but also allowing methane to leak into groundwater.

The natural gas industry has launched a major counter-strike against the film, complete with its own website, “The Truth About Gasland“. But watch out for the kind of “truth” they’re peddling.

How “natural” is that natural gas?

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently announced that they had debunked the movie, since two out of the three wells that “Gasland” featured were contaminated “biogenic” gas unrelated to oil and gas activity. But they didn’t explain the coincidence that biogenic gas just happened to show up in peoples’ drinking water, and why wells outside of areas hit by fracking operations don’t seem to catch fire.

And if that well, indeed, was “drilled into a naturally-occurring methane pocket”, why did it not show up for years – until after the nearby fracking operation started?

Junk science… or inconvenient truth?

A 2009 study “examined over 700 methane samples from 292 locations and found that methane, as well as wastewater from the drilling, was making its way into drinking water not as a result of a single accident but on a broader basis.” That study – which used isotopic fingerprinting to carefully match gas from surface leaks to deep formations, was also attacked by oil industry shills as “junk science”.

They’ve also played fast and loose with the truth.

Fox narrates, “Because of the exemptions, fracking chemicals are considered proprietary, like the special sauce for a Big Mac or the secret formula for Coca-Cola.”

Range Resources, an oil and gas company, called that claim “100 percent false,” Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for Range, told ABCNews.com. He added that gas companies are required to submit a material safety data sheet to the Department of Environmental Protection every time they frack a new well.

That statement is true now – new rules were issued after the documentary was made (and industry fought those changes every step of the way).

(Download a fact-sheet here – PDF)

With the film getting an Oscar nod, it’s likely lots more people will receive the film’s message… and we’ll be hearing a lot more desperate attempts at “debunking” from the oil industry.

Go to the “Gasland” website for information on how you can help stop fracking. And you can watch the trailer right here…

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.