[Hydraulic fracturing] is an onshore version of offshore unregulated drilling…
— Keith Olbermann, “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”
Like Big Pharm, like Big Oil, like Big Corp, in the indie exposé GASLAND, it is revealed that the American companies that drill for natural gas are as unequivocally criminal and truly as insidiously evil.
Filmmaker Josh Fox starts his documentary with a simple task: to trace the complaint of “funny-tasting water” in Dimock, Pennsylvania. It leads him across the United States and into the poisoned process of hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – in an area called the Marcellus Shale, PA (“the Saudi Arabia of natural gas”), the process involving companies drilling a deep hole, then pumping in water, sand and chemicals to shatter or “fracture” the shale, which releases the gas.
The fracking contaminates residential drinking water for miles around, which results in the funny taste and contributes to chronic ailments in families who must subsist off that land.
“Return water” comes back up the well, shot through with poisons, which the gas companies get rid of using two methods: 1) trucks transport the water away, and 2) they pump the water into the air as spray, allowing it to evaporate. Once in the atmosphere, it falls as acid rain. Thanks, Enron.
And whenever a gas line explodes – it spews those pretty poisons directly into the air…
People find they can light their tap water on fire. Fox interviews many of the simple people of the land; they are not activists or insurrectionists, merely concerned that since their lands were opened to fracking, they cannot turn to anyone to resolve the issue of their funny-tasting fire water.Fox also targets officials, in uncomfortable interviews that get him nowhere and result in either stonewalling or walkouts.
A couple, Mike Markham and Marsha Mendenhall, sent away a sample of almost black water to the state department, and got back a report that it was “perfectly fine.” They show us the offending jar of sludge, then to drive home the point, Mike turns on his faucet and with a hooligan glee lights his water on fire.
Another couple, Jesse and Aimee Ellsworth were featured on the local evening news, a story of water contaminated with natural gas and being able to light it on fire. The story was pursued no further. Also featured on that report was a lady named Rene whose family of three boys was drinking the water for years and finding they were always unhealthy. Fox finds he has become an unwilling detective for all these people, who regard him as some kind of official; he speculates that a camera crew will give you that kind of halo. Nonetheless, he investigates Rene’s water in labs and finds
one of the “volatile organic compounds” that comes up with the production of the gas is trichlorobenzene.
That’s just ONE of the over 500 chemicals involved in fracking. And the drilling companies don’t have to report ANY of them…
How can regulation be so lax? Enter Dick Cheney. Yes, as unbelievable and incongruous as it sounds, from 1995-2000, then-CEO of Halliburton, Cheney, formed the Energy Task Force and with a $100m lobbying effort, in conjunction with the EPA, created the Halliburton Loophole for the Safe Drinking Water Act, authorizing oil and gas drillers exclusively to inject known hazardous materials unchecked directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies. In 2005, the Act passed under – you guessed it – George W. Bush.
When we realize that the “Safe Water Act” is a euphemism and that it is slowly killing citizens in an ever-widening circumference, we realize it is no surprise at all that the two-headed felon Bush-Cheney is involved. They simply RELISH causing the deaths of thousands of innocents, no matter the country, no matter the cause, no matter the lie.
Resident Robert Blackcloud shows us a bubbling lake, oozing gas seepage; he too can light the water on fire, in small pockets of flames across the water, which would burn continuously were it left to do so. A real life Lake of Fire – how fitting that the devils Halliburton, Cheney and Bush created it.
A quote from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness pertains to something altogether different, but fits perfectly here: “…it occurred to me that my speech or my silence, indeed any action of mine, would be a mere futility. What did it matter what anyone knew or ignored? What did it matter who was manager? … The essentials of this affair lay deep under the surface, beyond my reach and beyond my power of meddling.”
Enron, American Petroleum Institute, BP, Shell – all hand-in-hand with Halliburton and Bush-Cheney.
“On the [EPA] panel that authored the report [on the contaminated land], five of seven members appeared to have conflicts of interest, and would benefit from the EPA’s decision not to conduct a further investigation… They showed it was toxic – then said it wasn’t a risk.”
–Weston Wilson, EPA whistleblower.
(Don’t know why people who tell the truth are tagged with the unflattering epithet “whistleblower” – as if they are covert or unethical; when in fact, the swine whom they are blowing the whistle on are the diabolical wrongdoers.)
“Every environmental law we wrote to protect public health is ignored.”
–Dr. Theo Colburn.
“The Corporate Business Model: You come through an area as fast as you can, and if you trash anything, you make the people who you impact prove it – you make them argue it in a court of law, and the last person standing is bought off and you move on.”
–resident Lisa Bracken.
Josh Fox’s documentary, filled with ominous detail (though nowhere near enough to convict corporate swine for their fatal negligence), serves to open our eyes to yet another American cover-up that we’ve been conditioned to consider as safe and normal since birth.
To play – ahem – devil’s advocate: We live in a modern world, we need to industrialize processes like energy retrieval or we’d never reap the benefits of modernization. We realize there are dangers in every single modern process, from oil drilling to space exploration to simply driving a car down a freeway trying not to get killed by assholes. But like the innumerable regulations we adhere to for the general safety of ourselves and others in driving a car down a freeway, the minimum we could ask for from our gas and oil companies are analogous regulations that would ensure safety to humans while raping our environment for energy.
That’s all, corporate pigs. Or it becomes just another day trying not to get killed by assholes.