Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014

Fracking the Earth

Documenting the Dark Side of “Energy Independence”

By David Luhrssen
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Filmmaker Josh Fox takes fracking personally. Shale gas drilling has surrounded the modest, rustic house in the Pennsylvania woods he inherited from immigrant parents. He might be forced off the land by a process that involves injecting toxic chemicals into the ground at high pressure to extract natural gas. Water from wells where fracking takes place often becomes flammable.

In Gasland Part II, the sequel to his Oscar-nominated documentary, Fox travels the U.S. for more evidence of rapacious, deceitful energy companies at work. The great power and long reach of this industry is frightening. Like sock puppets in a malign children’s show, Paul Ryan sings the same song as Hilary and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama on “energy independence” and “job creation” through “clean, cheap” shale gas extraction.

Fox finds that the bi-partisan campaign for new sources of fossil fuel regardless of its effect on air, earth and water has run into blowback in that most oil-driven of states, Texas. In some parts of Lone Star Land, fracking is impinging on the property rights of affluent whites—and they are getting mad! Perhaps large infusions of cash will help spur grassroots opposition? Stay tuned for Part III.

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