Gasland, winner of several major film festival awards and a finalist for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, helped trigger the anti-fracking movement, with its revelations about how oil and gas companies’ hydraulic fracturing for natural gas had impacted folks across the country, undermining their health, spoiling their water and turning their farms, ranches and backyards into industrial waste zones.
Filmmaker Josh Fox embarked on his road trip after receiving a letter from an oil and gas company offering his family $100,000 for the right to drill on their woodland property in Pennsylvania. Potentially at risk himself from the activities of an industry so powerful that it got an exemption from the Safe Drinking Water and Clear Water acts, Fox approaches his protagonists with both empathy and humor, playing guitar wearing a gas mask in front of drilling rigs on federal lands in the West.
It’s each homeowner’s and family’s grief at having witnessed the destruction of their home environment – along with their anger at having been lied to – that gives this movie its powerful punch. Gasland became mandatory viewing in communities that have been fighting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s greenlighting of fracking in New York (his decision to lift the current ban on fracking has been delayed while a health study is carried out).
The oil and gas industry responded to Gasland with fury, attempting to discredit the film by disputing its claims, for example, that the faucet-spewing methane gas lit by some homeowners was caused by fracking, and releasing a film of its own. One suspects that that saga provided Fox with abundant fodder for the sequel, Gasland Part II. Plus, a lot more wells have been drilled since Gasland was released in 2010.
According to the press material, Gasland Part II, which premiered at the 2013 TriBeCa Film Festival, “shows how the stakes have been raised on all sides in one of the most important environmental issues facing our nation today. The film argues that the gas industry’s portrayal of natural gas as a clean and safe alternative to oil is a myth, and that fracked wells inevitably leak over time, contaminating water and air, hurting families and endangering the Earth’s climate with the potent greenhouse gas methane. In addition, the film looks at how the powerful oil and gas industries are, in Fox’s words, ‘contaminating our democracy.’”
But come hear Fox himself tell you about it. On Tuesday, October 29 starting at 7 p.m., the director will appear at SUNY-New Paltz, showing clips of his new film, talking about the fracking issue and describing his experiences since the release of Gasland. The event is sponsored by the SUNY-New Paltz Environmental Task Force, an organization composed of SUNY students, faculty and community members. It’s free and will be held in Room 100 of the Lecture Center.
Gasland director Josh Fox discusses Gasland Part II, Tuesday, October 29, 7 p.m., free, SUNY-New Paltz, Lecture Center 100, 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz.