Monday at the Movies – A Gasland In My Own Backyard

Gasland is a 2010 American documentary written and directed by Josh Fox. The film focuses on communities in the United States impacted by natural gas drilling and, specifically, a stimulation method known as hydraulic fracturing (or in Australia we call it Fracking).

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This is a documentary that has been on my ‘to see’ list for months. Firstly because it was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary, secondly because friends of mine had seen it and told me it was a ‘must see’ movie, and thirdly because 15 coal seam gas mines have recently been approved for development near my house. So last week when I wandered into my local library and it was sitting on the shelf I took it as a message from the fates that it was time I got off my backside and watched it.

Let me set the record straight from the very beginning – this documentary is terrifying. If even a quarter of what is shown is true then the oil companies in America have some serious explaining to do.

The premise for the film is that Josh Fox (film maker) has just received a lucrative offer from an energy company wanting to lease his families land for natural gas extraction. Unsure of what to do he sets off across America to explore towns where the controversial technique of fracking has already been used. What he discovers will amaze you  – people with brain legions from exposure to unknown chemicals; contaminated water left in open pools to evaporate into the atmosphere; and even families that are able to set alight water flowing from the taps in their very own kitchens! This movie is about the contamination of water supplies by greedy companies only interested in increasing their bottom line.

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Josh Fox has created an entirely unique documentary. Filled with bitterly sad interviews with people affected by contamination from fracking processess, it overlays beautiful landscapes with more than a little banjo playing thrown in for good measure. The result is that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It is difficult to believe in a bureaucracy that allows companies to make ‘invisible’ pay-outs to avoid facing the music in a court of law. The only good news is that on June 23, 2011The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will examine claims of water pollution related to hydraulic fracturing in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Louisiana

This is is a ‘must see’ movie for anyone interested in… oh you know what… it is a must see movie for EVERYONE full-stop! I give it  my highest honour of 5/5 stars.

Have you seen the documentary? What was your opinion? Do you live in an area where hydraulic fracturing occurs? Have you seen first hand the contamination of natural water supplies? As always I would love to hear your opinion.

Jody Moller

For those of you in Australia there is a great GasLand Australia website here that collates all the most recent news articles and policy decisions regarding Coal Seam Gas Mining.