Sunday, April 13, 2014

Gasland Documentaries Drill into Fracking

By Anthony Vigna

For my out-of-classroom CEC requirement, I decided to watch both Gasland and Gasland 2 and write my reactions to both of them. Each film had hydraulic fracking as the primary topic, and exemplified the negative effects it has on the environment by documenting affected areas.

Basically, fracking takes a combination of over 600 different chemicals mixed with water and drills it into the ground. This causes a mini earthquake to form, freeing up the ground for natural gas extraction. While many people, including President Obama, assure the public that such a process is completely safe, both documentaries prove the fallacy of such a statement. Out of those 600 different chemicals, known carcinogens and toxins are used that are polluting the water in many homes around fracking areas. Approximately 40,000 gallons of these chemicals are utilized per fracturing, so its amazing that companies are allowed to get away with doing this.

Sure, fracking produces 300,000 barrels of natural gas a day, but it isn’t worth it due to the numerous environmental, safety, and health hazards at play. The documentaries look at many of the affected areas, which clearly show that the water is not safe to drink. In fact, if you put a flame next to a faucet of an affected house while the water is running, it will set on fire! The worst part is that companies are denying the negative factors of fracking. They insist that things like flammable water are natural, but when this is a common occurrence in areas that have fracking activity, it’s hard to believe such a sentiment.

You would think that there would be legislation that would be put in place to prevent something like this from happening, but companies that feed off non-renewable energy sources easily find ways to work around the law. The laws do exist, but they mean nothing to companies that want to start fracking. For example, the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, the Clean Water Act was created in 1972, and the Safe Drinking Water Act was put into effect in 1974. Yet, Dick Cheney was able to pass an energy bill through Congress in 2005 that exempted companies from all of those laws! As a result, mass drilling has begun, and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon.

While the original Gasland was able to shed a lot of light on such a controversial practice, Gasland 2 shows that not much has changed over the years. Companies are still fracking, and even the Environmental Protection Agency seems to be powerless to stand against this continuing disaster. Perhaps the most shocking part of Gasland 2 occurred at the end, when Capitol Hill police arrested director Josh Fox for trying to film a public hearing about fracking for his documentary. If people are willing to break First Amendment policies to continue fracking, then the battle to end such a horrible practice will truly be an uphill battle. Hopefully, Gasland 2 will further spread the word about fracking and lead people to stop condoning such an awful, disgusting practice.

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