Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Amazon DVD Reviews: "Gasland"

Gasland Set your sinks on fire
4 Out of 5 Stars

You've probably seen all the America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) commercials of late, cheerfully consoling us that safe, clean, natural gas can be easily extracted from the ground while happy people live above, leading clean and healthier lives. The Oscar nominated GASLAND exposes the corporate lie of Natural Gas mining. From the start, where filmmaker Josh Fox receives a letter offering him something near $100,000 for the rights to drill gas from his mountain and creekside home in upstate Pennsylvania, to the end, where you watch New York City and State lawmakers fight to keep the watershed that provides millions of people from polluted drinking water, Fox explores how the Power Companies have managed to manipulate the system with the help of corrupt and gullible politicians the outright greed of the Bush/Cheney administration.

The central point of GASLAND is that, in 2005, the EPA made changes in environmental policy that are called "The Halliburton Loophole." That rule, snuck through by Cheney and his secretive energy board buddies (including then CEO of Enron, Ken Lay), exempted the Halliburton developed technology of hydraulic fracturing (now widely known as 'fracking') from regulations of the old Clean Water Act. The end result? Drilling for natural gas and the unbelievable amount of water and chemicals pumped into the ground required to create a well are all but completely exempt from regulations regarding the toxins that are needed to extract the gas.

Of course, all the companies involved say that they have nothing to do with hundreds of drinking wells across the country suddenly turning unsafe withing weeks of fracking. Or animals getting sick and losing their hair. Or the methane explosions of people's homes. Or the mass die-offs of animals and fish when chemicals leak into a stream. But Fox, who tried to contact companies and individuals in mining throughout the course of his investigation gets the same treatment as the folks in states across the country; either "no comment" or massive run-arounds. When a State Environmental Agency head in Pennsylvania tells Fox that he'd help Fox and other PA citizens of Dimok (the first town Fox visits), only to note when the meeting ends that the state slashed the office's budget and basically dismantled it.

But more revealing than anything else in the movie is the notorious flaming sink footage. When fracking shatters the aquifer of a peace of land, the gases seep into the water table. The chemicals used to pump the gas out also get into the water, and before you know it, you have flammable tapwater. It's not just that water that is getting mixed up, the air outside the well is loading up with toxins to the point where a rural area of Colorado where the population is approximately one person per square mile is as dangerous or more so than a bad day in Los Angeles. GASLAND serves as a warning and reminder; the same smiling advertisers trying to convince you that clean, accessible natural gas is not threat to you at all are the same folks that told you off-shore drilling was both safe and existing regulations guaranteed that even if the miniscule chance accident were to ever take place, they could stop it from becoming disastrous.

When you watch GASLAND, there will probably be a detractor ready to tell you that the film is just lefty propaganda. Just remember the last sentence of the previous paragraph, and make sure to remind your companion of two little words. Deepwater Horizon.

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