Fox, Josh (Director). (2010). Gasland [Documentary ].

The Athens County community has recently become aware of the idea of “fracking” operations and injection well sites within the county. This hot-button issue intrigued me because it is happening not only local, but all around the United States. The documentary, Gasland, is Josh Fox’s personal account and investigation into “fracking” sites on his land. I decided to watch this film to learn more about the extraction process and the consequences millions of Americans face.

After watching this film through its entirety and found it very enlightening and contemporary. Natural gas, also known as shale gas, is taking over as the cheaper alternative to fossil fuels but has proven to create its own, sometimes haunting, set of risks for those who reside in the surrounding communities. More specifically, hydraulic fracturing has become a fresh and controversial issue in Appalachia.

In Northern Appalachia, The Marcellus Shale distribution is an area compared to the Saudi Arabia of natural gas according to the Kentucky Geological Survey. Highly pressurized fracking fluid has found to consist of high levels of heavy metals such as arsenic and industrial solvents including benzene, lead toluene and ethylene glycol (antifreeze). This toxic fluid creates new channels in the rock that can increase the extraction rates and ultimately recover fossil fuels. Throughout this process, these carcinogenic chemicals seeps into the air, groundwater, and public wells. The process is controversial because of the risks it poses to the environment and human health. The world-renowned documentary, Gasland, has shed light on this disputed issue.

Filmmaker Josh Fox investigated natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale under large parts of the Appalachian region, mainly in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia (many Ohio University students are from these states). He interviewed families who were able to light their tap water on fire, suffered from numerous health issues, and feared their well water had been eternally contaminated. After reaching out to politicians, he found that hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. His goal thereafter was to enlighten the nation about the secrets the natural gas industry was trying to hide from its customers.

Another fear connected with hydraulic fracturing is the risk of seismic awakenings. The stability of the earth is threatened with the intense auguring of new channels. According to Josh Fox, over 80,000 pounds of chemicals and upwards of 3,500,000 gallons of water are injected into the earth’s crust to frack each well. This could potentially result in the endangerment of thousands of lives depending on the size.

Overall, I believe Fox is trying to reveal the dark side of fracking in his film Gasland. His findings prove to be eye-opening and I recommend anyone who questions natural gas operations to watch this documentary. To view the trailer, click the Youtube video below.

Rotten Tomatoes Review
This film is available to view on Netflix and HBO Go

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