Thanks to Josh Fox, Americans are waking up to the realities of hydraulic fracturing

gaslandLast month, I attended a live screening of Gasland Part II, a new documentary by Josh Fox, director of the original Gasland. I got to see the movie and Josh Fox in person because he took his new film on a “grassroots” tour around the country before it aired on HBO this past Monday. After the film, the heads of various environmental/anti-fracking organizations joined Josh on stage and urged the audience members to get active and oppose hydraulic fracturing.

You may be familiar with hydraulic fracturing, a technique used to release natural gas from deep underground so it can be brought to the surface and sold, much like other fossil fuels. Perhaps you’ve seen some of the feel-good commercials that taut the benefits of natural gas over oil since it “burns 50% cleaner.” Maybe you even saw the recent movie, Promised Land, which showed how the gas companies come into a town and promise money to local, struggling citizens, in return for the mineral rights to their property.

On the other hand, maybe you know about hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” because your water was poisoned by methane or by the proprietary cocktail of chemicals used in the process. Maybe you, like the residents of Dimock, PA, found out how much fun it was to light your water on fire… Which was about when you realized that you would need to abandon your property because it was no longer worth anything.

So far, the horror that is fracking has only affected a relatively small number of Americans, but that number is growing and fast. The image that stuck with me most from Gasland Part II was the map of the world showing all the shale formations that the gas companies are salivating over. The Marcellus Shale formation is beneath the majority of Josh Fox’s (and my own) State of Pennsylvania, but there are others on every continent and in nearly every country in the world.

Shale formations around the world

I was also struck by a terrifying statement that I’m afraid I have to paraphrase, but it was something like: “Oil and gas companies have always taken what they wanted and let the indigenous people suffer the consequences.” I never thought of myself as “indigenous” before.

Please don’t believe anyone who tells you fracking is either safe or can be done safely, it isn’t and it can’t. If you don’t believe me (the gas companies are really hoping that you won’t), then see Gasland Part II. If you don’t have HBO or know anyone who has it, see the original Gasland or another well-made documentary; Split Estate, which illustrates how mineral rights are making property rights irrelevant.

This DOES apply to you. This land is Gasland. Your land is Gasland. We are the “indigenous people” and will suffer terribly so a few can profit from the gas beneath our feet. And we are the only ones who can rise up together to keep that from happening.

In the meantime, please enjoy the original Gasland:



  1. I used your photo in my video “Twister” at
    Also, check out my poem “Houston Ship Canal”
    I been around the world
    From Bombay to Montreal
    But I’m proud to hang my hat
    On the banks of the Houston Ship Canal

    Where the sweet smell of ethylene glycol
    And methylene oxide meet
    And the effluent streams of methanol
    Disintegrate your feet

    Where toluene and styrene share a moonlight kiss
    And hydrochloric acid has an odor worse than piss
    Oh carry me back to the Houston Ship Canal
    Where fish sprout legs
    And dogs lay eggs
    And birds grow toes
    And Mother Nature holds her nose

    On the banks of the Houston Ship Canal
    Where life is such a hoot
    To feel my boyfriend’s tumors growin’
    Through his protective asbestos suit

    One night my boyfriend kissed me
    As the dead fish went floating by
    And he whispered to me I love you
    But our respirators got in the way

    We took a moonlight cruise
    On the styrene monomer barge
    By the petroleum tanks
    Where the gas leaks stank
    And it smelled real rank
    As we held our nose
    And it weren’t no rose
    ‘Cause it curled our toes
    Where the radon beamed
    And the fishes screamed
    On the banks of the Houston Ship Canal

  2. There is progress being made against this horror. Some European countries have banned fracking outright. NY State has a moratorium on fracking. We have to demand, as a people, that this be stopped. Please do all you can to get the word out and to fight to ban fracking everywhere–starting with where you live!

  3. My god, why is our EPA not clamping down on this oil and gas fracking? In Wyoming, they vote GOP and this is what they get? This state should vote democratic and make sure that everyone they elect will fight to end this destructive practice. Where is the outrage in the Obama administration? Does he not have the ability to issue executive orders to the EPA to put a stop to this tracking?

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