Gasland opens when Filmmaker Josh Fox is offered $100,000 for the drilling rights to the gas under his land in Pennsylvania near the New York border. Many people have signed on the dotted line and regretted it. But not Fox. He took off on a cross-country investigation of America to understand what it would mean to open the door to natural gas drilling on his family s land.
The film that resulted, Gasland, follows Josh as he exposes the environmental effects of drilling and hydraulic fracturing. What he uncovers is nothing new to OGAP members but horrifying to those unfamiliar with what it takes to turn on a light switch or light their stove top: homes with tap water so contaminated you can set it on fire; people with similar chronic illnesses and symptoms in drilling areas across the country; and toxic waste pits that kill livestock and wildlife.
From Dimock, Pennsylvania, to Wyoming s Powder River Basin to DISH, Texas and Aztec, New Mexico, Fox documents the dark side of America s energy policy: an oil and gas industry that is exempt from nearly every one of our federal environmental laws the Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act, to name a few. In 2005, Congress, thanks to former Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, exempted hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Today was bad news for people living next to the natural gas fields nationwide. Two incidents led to injuries and environmental mayhem in Texas and West Virginia, while in Pennsylvania the Moshannon State Forest was still reeling from clean up from last Friday s well blowout. Before reading on, take a minute to help stop this madness at http://frackaction.earthworks.org
South of Dallas, Texas, when electrical company workers drilled into a natural gas pipeline, the area expoded into a furnace where the heat was described as unbearable 900 feet away from the explosion. The plume of flame was visible from several miles away. Initially three people were reported dead and several injured; the latest reports indicate that one person remains missing and at least seven were hospitalized.
Texans working to improve set-asides for natural gas infrastructure have been arguing for 1000-foot setbacks away from homes, schools and other buildings. The current law calls for 150-foot setbacks. The Wall Street Journal, in an aside, also points out that Cleburne, Texas, where the explosion occurred, was the site of a series of small earthquakes last year linked to natural gas drilling.
Incidents are on the rise
In a stunning development today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new guidance designed to protect Appalachian streams from mountaintop removal mining, by taking an important step to prevent the removed mountaintops from being dumped into streams and valleys. This is great news for Appalachia, and EARTHWORKS congratulates our allies for their hard work in bringing this issue to the forefront of the EPA s attention, and we also applaud Lisa Jackson and her team at the EPA for recognizing the importance of protecting clean water.
We at EARTHWORKS are proud to have worked with Secretary Udall. In 1988, he helped found our organization, and served as the chairman of our board of directors for a decade, providing guidance and leadership in our efforts to protect communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of mineral development in the U.S. and worldwide.
Former Secretary of the Interior, former US Congressman and EARTHWORKS cofounder Stewart Udall died today at his home in New Mexico at age 90. During his long career as a conservationist, Udall co-authored the Wilderness Act of 1964, which protected millions of acres from development, stewarded the creation of more than 60 national parks, and sued the federal government on behalf of Navajo uranium miners and people suffering health impacts from above aboveground nuclear tests.
In 1988, Stewart Udall joined with Phil Hocker and Mike McCloskey to form the Mineral Policy Center, later EARTHWORKS, where he served on our board of directors until 1997. We will always remember Stewart and do our best to carry on his vision of environmental justice, clean air, clean water, and protection for our treasured natural resources.