Posted by Shira Lazar
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"LOS ANGELES (CBS) This past January, Josh Fox won the Documentary Special Jury Prize for his groundbreaking work, "Gasland," at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
His first ever documentary, now available on HBO, touches on a subject that has become increasingly important in light of the recent catastrophic BP oil spill - the environmental effects of the energy industry's efforts to extract natural resources. In "Gasland," Fox travels across the country exposing what he says are the unsafe drilling practices of the natural gas industry and its detrimental effects on the environment and communities.
Fox's story began in 2008 after being offered $100,000 for a gas lease on his family's 19.5-acre home in Pennsylvania. In an effort to understand what the lease would mean to him and his family, Fox began investigating the effects of natural gas drilling in nearby towns.
"The story from the gas companies, and those concerned in my area were totally radically different, that I decided to investigate about it. Gas companies were saying, 'this is no problem it's basically a fire hydrant in the middle of the field, this is good for the environment...' and then the environmentalists were saying, 'look there's a million chemicals involved, this is incredible destructive to the land, it can contaminate your water, air pollution, people are getting sick.'"
His first stop was a neighboring town called Dimmick where gas companies had set up shop with drilling prevalent throughout the town. According to Fox, the town was "completely upside down. Water contamination, people could light their water on fire, Halliburton trucks everywhere, people were afraid of what was happening to them, they were feeling betrayed, a feeling like they got something completely different than what they signed up for."
Compelled to understand the effects of this type of drilling called "hydraulic fracturing" or "fracking," Fox ventured to more than 20 others states where this practice occurs. He claims we he found was shocking.
In communities where fracking is a common occurrence, negative effects were just as common, he says - sick communities where cancer rates were abnormally high, water that could be lit on fire, not to mention generally unsafe drinking water, animals losing hair, and much more. According to Fox, there are 450,000 of these gas wells across the country, with a proposal for 100,000 more in New York and 100,000 in Pennsylvania.
Not surprisingly, the natural gas industry sees things quite differently." More>>>>