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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Gasland

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June 25, 2010

Movie Review Friday: Gasland

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Gasland (2009)

Now playing on HBO, and coming soon on Netflix

This week, a groundbreaking documentary called Gasland, written and directed by Josh Fox, premiered on HBO. A 2010 Sundance winner, the film was born when a gas company approached Fox with an enticing financial offer to lease his land in Wayne County, Pennsylvania, in the Marcellus Shale Ridge, an area dubbed “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” Fox was concerned that information about the risks didn’t exist.

So he set off on a trip across 34 states in which gas companies have been busy drilling on public and private land. During his journey, he learns about a new technique called hydraulic fracturing (developed by Halliburton, the corporation responsible for cementing BP’s well), which cracks the earth, then pumps tens of millions of gallons of water, mixed with chemicals, into the ground to extract natural gas.

He visits the people who live where the drilling has run amok, devastated the landscape, and contaminated the groundwater supply. One resident demonstrates how much gas is coming out of his faucet by holding a lighter under the running water – which proceeds to combust. Viewers hear from dozens of people with cancer, respiratory problems, and unrelenting migraines.

Fox then returns to his home, where the same gas companies are raring to drill using the water from the Delaware River basin, the watershed that provides drinking water for the 17 million people who live in New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

This powerful, stark film presents us with our chance to prevent another corporate-caused environmental calamity, as we realize that “fracking,” like offshore oil drilling, hasn’t been subject to sufficient impact studies or regulation, or a plan in case of emergency.

--Joseph Logan

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