Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fuel for fire

Documentary film explores natural gas drilling

Express Staff Writer

Residents in a Pennsylvania town were natural gas drilling occured are able to light their drinking water on fire.

     Imagine drinking flammable water. As absurd as that sounds, that was the case for residents in a Pennsylvania town located near a natural gas drilling site. The 21st century has seen the largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history, which has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking,” or hydraulic fracturing, has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” in the nation.

     When filmmaker Josh Fox was asked to lease his land for drilling at his Pennsylvania home, he embarked on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination about natural gas drilling. Fox’s journey led him to make the documentary film “Gasland.”

     The Community Library in conjunction with the Idaho Conservation League will have a free screening of “Gasland,” an award-winning Sundance film, tonight, June 15, at 6 p.m.

     “Gasland” explores the natural gas drilling boom in the U.S. as well as the safety issues involved in the fracking process. In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a good option. While it does release greenhouse gases, natural gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, and is in plentiful supply—parts of the U.S. sit above some of the largest natural gas reserves on Earth.

     With widespread natural gas drilling, fracking raises concerns about health and environmental risks. Fox reveals the effects of fracking throughout his film, starting when a gas company came to his hometown. What followed were alleged chronic illness, animal-killing toxic waste, disastrous explosions and regulatory missteps.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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