Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Gasland Debate

A while back, I watched the documentary Gasland, a film that mapped out the practices of large companies in their quest to withdraw natural gas from the ground. I thought it was pretty good, an intelligent and at times frightening visage.

I did not know, however, that shortly after it was nominated for an Oscar, that a huge campaign was launched to smear the film.

You may note, if you go to youtube to watch this, that comments and ratings are disabled. Always a sign of audience approval, that.

However, curiosity aroused, I spent a bit of time wandering around the net. There's a video of a guy confronting the director of the film, Josh Fox, which apparently Fox and his lawyers have ordered off youtube (who knows if that is true: the video runs three minutes and is one of those moments when an audience member stands up and rants about material that misses the point of the film), pieces in the Huffington post by Bill Shireman, who makes a living mediating between big business and environmental groups, and webpages set up by gas companies to debunk the film, or so they say.

The most even of all these, and the only one worth linking to is perhaps the one written by Mike Soraghan from Greenwire and published in the New York Times:

The documentary "Gasland" brought the term "hydraulic fracturing" into the nation's living rooms. With its sharp and sustained criticism of gas drilling, it highlighted the growing debate that has come with a boom in the country's domestic energy production.

And it's been nominated for an Oscar.

The HBO film follows Josh Fox, a New York filmmaker whose family owns property in northeast Pennsylvania. After a gas company offers to lease the land for drilling, he takes off in a beat-up Toyota to interview people harmed by gas drilling.

The oil and gas industry has not been as supportive as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Industry groups, such as the Independent Petroleum Association of America, have accused Fox of confusing hydraulic fracturing with drilling in general. They allege many other errors, large and small. IPAA's "Energy In Depth" campaign issued a seven-page rebuttal to the film, called "Debunking Gasland".

EID even mailed it to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, along with a letter arguing that the film doesn't live up to the academy's standards.

But Fox responded with his own detailed defense of the movie "Affirming Gasland (pdf)."

The result is a dust storm of charges and counterclaims. The filmmaker and industry have each made errors and have spun some facts to their outer limits. In an attempt to clear the air before the envelope is opened Sunday night, Greenwire sifted through the claims.

In part, one of the reasons I am linking this is because a similar thing has recently begun in Australia, and it has stirred up a lot of debate, as this link demonstrates. In fact, if you haven't watched the film, it is worth it--bleak and terrible and, by all accounts, mostly accurate, I tend to side with it more than big business claims of safety, and beyond all that, I think it's a fine film too.

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