In a classic display of concern and interest, citizens of all walks of life appeared for the screening of Gasland 2 in Boulder Wednesday evening. The Glenn Miller Ballroom was home to the launch of independent film director Josh Fox’s latest update on the troubling energy process called Fracking. Boulder was an ideal site for Josh and his primary underwriter, HBO, to screen a relevant and galvanizing film. It is a film that shows how everyone’s backyard is impacted by the presence of an abundant energy supply – in this case Natural Gas. NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) is not going to be enough when fracking natural gas becomes an acceptable practice throughout the United States.
For those who do not know, America’s lack of an energy policy has led to a diversified plan to extract what ever is economically viable from our natural resources in a general attempt to become energy independent and regain our leadership in supplying the world with energy. What Gasland 2 shows is that the stakes are higher than ever for not just a few American landowners with mineral rights (Josh included) but for the vast areas of land that produce natural gas. These areas lay below our homes in rural and urban areas alike. In one scene Josh joins fellow film maker Chris Paine (Revenge of The Electric Car) on a quick ride through the hills outside Hollywood, California which once again have become productive and economically viable plots for performing oil and gas wells.
Josh has succeeded in bringing attention to a national issue that is being heavily lobbied by big oil and natural gas companies. The position has become so extreme that military tactics used on citizens in Iraq are being engaged by various companies right here in America. Specifically Range and Chesapeake Energy are keen to bully anyone interested in getting in the way of the profits that these publicly owned companies feel are rightly theirs.
Because Fox has a genuine concern for his own property in Pennsylvania, his battle cry has been heard by both sides of the argument. President Obama knows that a stagnant economy that fails to drive new opportunities – jobs – is one that will lose not just party politics but economic security. Landowners too know that they can become sellouts when the gas companies come calling for their land. Unlike previous royalty splits, the fracking movement has been hiding a serious problem – one often panned by the right-wing media. Water contamination is the source of why fracking is a terrible energy choice. When wells fail, typcially 1 in 20, a variety of gases including methane seep back into the ground water and air. More dangerous are the toxic chemicals that percolate into the water supply during the fracturing process. The hazard to human health is just one by-product that companies like Range Energy, Chesapeake and Encana want citizens to overlook. Gasland 2 clearly shows that communities – once sought for their standard of living – are becoming worthless because of fracking. From outside Pittsburgh, PA and Ft. Worth, Texas to small towns in Wyoming and Colorado, households are being lost to the poisons and contaminants found in drinking water, ground water and the unseen gases in the air.
At the Boulder screening Fox attempted to allow the crowd to voice their concerns and organize into a non-violent, proactive organization. Like so many other efforts though, the idealists are not as persuasive as Josh’s film. For the movement to have strength, it will need to convince you and me to refrain from using products that rely on natural gas. As an abundant, cheap energy source, Fox and crew need to drive people to non-gas powered vehicles and homes. While doable today, consumer convenience of electric powered energy – mainly solar – is not yet ready for mass competitive consumption.
Fracknation needs to understand first and foremost that contaminated drinking water is an extreme cost to all of society. Americans have the right to have a clean environment. The question Fox asks correctly is: “Who is evoking the right to protect our resources today?” Who amongst us is willing to correctly say – our energy appetite needs to avoid ruining our critically viable, abundant and key resource that sustains all of life. Clean, uncontaminated water is a must! This message must not land on deaf ears. Congress – and businesses – must place priority on human welfare and not on short term financial gains. Most critical is that consumers – citizens – need to consume products free of natural gas.
GASLAND 2 will be aired to 40 million households starting in July 8 at 9PM on HBO. Definitely set aside the time to learn about this critical energy question and take a stand.