Original Post: Published on: Sep 11, 2010 @ 20:58

So, I have started a few different post on Gasland and have never got around to finishing one because I typically get frustrated when I read peoples comments on the topic. Industry has tackled the mythbuster portion of gasland, but the public seem more happy to listen to lies, misinformation, and utter stupidity than the facts. http://www.energyindepth.org/2010/06/debunking-gasland/

I have come to realize that the anti-fracking movement is largely composed of conspiracy theorists and super environmentalists. Even when presented with facts they believe that they are being fed lies because the answers can only come from the companies that they are attacking.

If you haven’t watched gasland jumping through this clip will give you a relatively good idea of its content.


Assuming you watched the video and came back you may have sided with Fox because something about his voice compels you trust what he is saying. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know what he is talking about, and he makes it sound like fracking is something that is new or not well understood which is simply untrue. The process has been used for more than 30 years and the processes is much safer than it has ever been.

The only thing that I will give Fox credit for is that he may have uncovered a few cases where oil companies screwed up, but most of his documentary was totally debunked by energyindepth who showed that most were documented cases. Fracking technology is proven, and it is up to the states to properly regulate hydraulic fracturing. Fox also makes the claim that is is fairly common to be able to light you water on fire in areas where natural gas drilling is taking place and blames it on fracking. In part that is a true statement, but in reality it probably has nothing to do with fracking, and before his “documentary” came out it was relatively easy to research but that information has been replaced with a load of garbage. Many people around the country can light their water on fire and that was one way to find natural gas in the past.  After this film came out lots of people tried to light their water on fire and found that it could in fact be lit so it was naturally the oil companies fault. Now everyone seems to think that the oil companies caused all the problems. This is especially true in Eastern Wyoming and parts of Colorado where people draw water out of coal seams. Natural gas will dissolve in water naturally and when it is depressurized it will come out of solution just like taking to top off a bottle of pop. Production causes a pressure drop which causes the gas to come out of solution. Fracing is not the direct cause of the problem. For the recorded oil companies probably shouldn’t have fracked so shallow, that said I am sure some cases were caused by oil companies, but that would have to be investigated on a case by case basis and does not represent an industry wide problem. A few bad frack jobs are not going to cause massive water problems that will affect large numbers of people because any chemicals that make it into ground or surface water will get diluted. Personally, I have a feeling that the run off from parking lots and the stuff that comes out of storm drains in any city is probably a lot worse for the environment than fracking fluid. People are just looking for a scapegoat.

Every video on the internet that involves burning water coming from a  faucet now seem to have some reference to gasland in the comments section, and blame firmly pointed at the gas companies.   Biogenic gas is something that our good friend Mr. Fox totally missed, and may explain several of the cases where he showed people lighting their water faucets on fire, and has absolutely nothing to do will oil and gas drilling. The information on this page may help you understand how widespread biogenic gas in water wells actually is. https://www.dmr.nd.gov/ndgs/shallowgas/sgasnew.asp North Dakota is the only state where I have found a study on the topic, but I am sure several other states have similar information available. The point is that gas in water wells is not at all uncommon.


Update: Incorporating the first two comments. I function a bit better when I have questions to answer.

Angela Monti fox says:

Hi, Your use if these derogatory words, “Josh Fox is full of shit” to express your dislike for GASLAND, shows your ignorance of facts and inability to put forth valid intelligent arguments against fracking.

In fact when you do develop an argument with some degree of intelligent comment, your statements actually prove rather then disprove some of the main points of the movie. For example: “it is up to the states to properly regulate hydraulic fracturing”. Yes, this is exactly one of the points made in the movie. However, states are “unable” to regulate because the toxic formulas have been kept secret (point #1) made in the movie, (point 2) the states are inadequately staffed to properly investigate and regulate. (Point 3) the federal government has enabled the oil and gas industry to wreck havoc on lives, land, water and air by the creation of “loopholes” in the law that enable the industry to be “exempt from the clean water-clean air act and the super fund law that requires the industry to clean up their mess.

Next, your statement “I’m sure some cases (of water contamination) were caused by oil companies”; The fact that you site these events as insignificant show your lack of regard for human life in general. Even if only some cases are caused by the production of natural gas those people’s lives are just as important as yours. In addition, the cases shown in the movie are simply EXAMPLES! THERE IS MUCH MORE FOOTAGE AND MANY MORE PEOPLE IF YOU CARE TO LOOK.

One wonders what your motivation is for taking the position you have taken and to be so seemingly angry about this movie. Have you leased your land? Are you invested in natural gas? Why would you be particularly angry with Josh Fox as to say he is “full of shit”? This shows your crudeness and your inability to actually make a rational argument against the movie.

In addition, we understand why the natural gas industry has tried to “debunk” the movie; simply because were the federal government to reinstate the protection of our air and water, and reinstate the “super fund” law making the oil and gas industry responsible for the damage they cause, the industry would not be profitable. Were it to be no longer profitable to produce natural gas through this method the industry might then look to alternative non fossil fuels. This is not a conspiracy theory and to link that movement to this movie is bizarre and absurd. Are all the people at Sundance, and HBO part of that conspiracy?

My Rebuttal:

Ben says:

I feel that Josh Fox is intentionally misleading the public by either totally misstating facts our outright lying. I am not against proper regulation of fracking, but pushing people to fear fracking is ridiculous.

My Break Down For you:

Point 1 response:

“formulas have been kept secret” –True, but the ingredients are not secret.

Many of the things in frack water are bad for the environment, but it is nearly impossible for frack water to mix with drinking water or anything on the surface as long as it is properly handled and disposed of. (Most often the water is re-inject far below any potential drinking water.)

States are NOT “unable” to regulate the oil and gas industry in their respective states (that idea is insulting). Most states are able to handle regulating the oil and gas industry within their respective states. States that have trouble regulating the oil and gas industry are improperly utilizing tax dollars they make from drilling which is a problem the state needs to fix and not the federal government.

Point 2 response:

The federal government is even more inadequately staffed to properly investigate and regulate the oil and gas industry. A very deep understanding of local geology is a must, and can not be painted with a broad brush which is what the federal government likes to do. In order for the fed to be affective they would be forced to contract out the work which is something the states could also do.

Point 3 Response:

I sort of agree with you, but that is a whole different issue, and I also think it points to state regulation as an option.

Personal Attacks Response:

“The fact that you site these events as insignificant show your lack of regard for human life in general.”

I don’t feel that they are insignificant. The oil companies should be forced to provide alternatives if they really were the cause.There is no real fix for totally botched frac jobs so significant effort needs to be taken to make sure that they do not happen. Obviously, the goal is to have no failed frack jobs, but bad things can happen. Lucky for the world, the incentive is economic rather than an imposed regulation. No oil company wants to absorb the loss of a 5 million dollar well which can be the result of a failed frack job.

Also, I do value having lights and driving, and other alternatives are not yet available. We can get oil and gas from other parts of the world, but your stance on the topic is really it is just a case of not in my back yard. We have one of the best developed horizontal fracking programs in the world and it will have a long term affect on the quality of life for our country as a whole.

– I do not own land that is leased, and I never will be unless something amazing is developed for gasifying deep coal in place. (The technology does exist but will serve no purpose in the near-term)

– I am not invested in natural gas in any way. (I simply choose to defend the lesser evil)

* I feel that fracking will be important in the future because it is better than buying oil and gas from countries that hate us. (I am not an energy independence crackpot, but everything makes some difference)

* fracking/natural gas is better for the environment than most alternatives, and it is most cost effective

– Tar sands are going to get bigger

– Near surface oil shale is a dumb idea because of the amount of water it takes, and it is mostly found in arid regions

– Most countries with the exception of a few have even less regulation that we do.

I said Josh Fox is full of shit because I think he is, and I would probably tell him so in person as well provide a lengthy geology lesson. Why do you feel that we need to live in such a politically correct world? Does my foul language really hurt you? Based on your name I assume you may be related to Mr. Fox so it probably does offend you, but the statement was mostly used as an attention grabber and it must have worked.

I am angry with Fox because he blatantly lies to push his own agenda.(I feel he is enjoying being famous) The reality is that fracking is fairly safe, and oil companies go to great lengths to not frack into formations that have a lot of water. (Not to say mistakes are not made). I present a basic geology lesson for anyone who may have read this far. Shales are really lithified clays, and clays generally swell if they are exposed to water which close fractures and reduces gas and oil production.(Chemicals are partly used to reduce this affect) In addition, shales typically contain laminated layers so when high pressure fluids are pumped down hole the natural tendency of the shale is to fracture alone the laminations because that is typically the weakest point. HOWEVER, the natural existing stress fields in rocks almost always cause significant vertical fractures which is usually the intended goal of fracking. Fractures fluid should not be able to make it anywhere near the water table because there is a pressure drop as you move away from your injection site point below the surface. Note: There are even more reasons as to why Fracking works and is safe but that is going to require its own post.

Industry has no real reason to be worried about the super fund law, but they are worried about unnecessary regulation and bans/moratoriums on fracking. (Utter stupidity, like what has been seen by the state of New York.) Profitability will not be affected as long as fracking is allowed to continue. Without fracking producing gas from shale formations is not an option.

Non-fossil fuels are decades out. -Fact

I still invest in them, but the technology isn’t there yet.

–The electrical grid needs an upgrade and there will need to be a redistribution of power generation.

–People need to start generating their own power.

Both will likely be the part of the solution, but cheap natural gas will push those technologies farther off into the future.

I did not mean to imply that this is a conspiracy theory. (I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion) The meaning of that statement is that even when people are presented with facts they think it is just the big bad oil industry lying to them. The fact of the matter is that the oil industry is just trying to do damage control by releasing more information on fracking, and they are the ones who have all the data on the topic. I think HBO and Sundance 1. put it on the air because they believed a bunch of lies 2. wanted to capitalize on peoples lack of understanding of the topic.

Another little update: The following link is boring but informative video made by the shale gas industry that directly addresses peoples concerns with fracking, and it also brings to light what people may actually want to be concerned with.  http://shalegasfuture.com/