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27 January 2011, 11:10 AM
Fracking travels from the little screen to the big screen and back again
Josh Fox's critically acclaimed documentary GASLAND was nominated this week for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’re positively thrilled to see GASLAND—the truth-telling/irreverent film about toxic gas drilling—get an Oscar nod for best documentary. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s readily available on DVD. And there are more and more community screenings being organized every week.

Apparently industry’s none too happy about the Academy Award nomination. And, as you can tell from this indulging piece in the New York Times, they’re pretty unembarrassed about coming across as total spoilsports.

Well, if I was an oil and gas executive, I’d be peeved too. The ugly truth about this controversial form of gas drilling—known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”—has been getting lots of screen time, from Josh Fox’s critically acclaimed documentary to an episode on the popular CBS crime show CSI.

In spite of this attention, we’ve still got our work cut out for us—as evidenced by last night’s State of the Union. In his speech, President Obama pledged that, by 2035, 80 percent of our country’s power will come from clean sources of energy. But he included natural gas and those other not-really-clean sources of energy—nuclear and “clean” coal (whatever that is)—as part of the formula.

Putting aside for the moment the fact that a recent analysis of the full cycle of natural gas production shows that climate impacts from gas could be right up there with coal—it’s hard to fathom how an energy source that’s been linked to poisoned wells, flaming faucets, sick people, and dying animals can be considered safe and clean.

Which is why Earthjustice was among two dozen groups who told President Obama this week that any gas rush should not come at expense of public health.

As Earthjustice Legislative Associate Jessica Ennis said in a statement:

We need clean sources of energy to power our lives. But with current practices in the industry, natural gas cannot be considered such a source.

The truth is, people all over the country have been placed in harm’s way by rushed and irresponsible gas development. We need to look at the full life-cycle of gas development and transportation from the perspectives of both carbon pollution in our atmosphere and threats to public health. At stake is the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the wild places that feed our spirit.

The good news is that American companies have shown, time and again, their ability to meet challenges through innovation. We hope that President Obama will lead the way and prompt the oil and gas industry to get to work solving these important problems.

Amen. But if the president needs further convincing, I have an excellent selection that he should really consider screening at his next movie night.

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