I don’t doubt that some of those who oppose hydraulic fracturing — fracking — are serious people seeking to ensure public safety and healthy. I, too, want to make sure that as North Carolina begins energy exploration, safety and health are protected. Kudos to our legislative reformers and governor for doing just that. But there are some in the anti-fracking movement whose goal is to intentionally mislead. In this piece, JLF’s Jon Sanders exposes their shameful actions.
With respect to “Gasland,” the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission had investigated the property two years before the movie was released. They found “no indications of oil & gas-related impacts to water well.”
Still, regulators returned after the movie and retested, again finding “biogenic gas that was not related to oil and gas activity” — and furthermore found evidence that the methane had long been present. That included “a 1976 publication by the Colorado Division of Water Resources states that the aquifer contains ‘troublesome amounts of … methane.’”
“Gasland” director Josh Fox publicly admitted on camera that he knew about those findings but chose to leave them out because he considered them “not relevant.” As he stated, “I don’t care about the report from 1976. There are reports from 1936 where people say they could light their water on fire in New York state. But that’s no bearing on their situation, at all.”
Fox outdid his deliberate deception from “Gasland” in the sequel. The flaming garden hose of “Gasland Part II” had been deliberately attached to a gas vent.
As with the first movie, state regulators had already investigated water in the area (this time Parker County, Texas). What they had found was — again — the source of methane was natural seepage and that natural gas wells were “not causing or contributing to contamination of any Parker County domestic water wells.”
Going further, in 2012 a Texas District Court ruled that the landowner in the video had conspired with others expressly to “alarm the public” and “alarm the EPA.” Quoting the court (emphasis added):
The Court references with concern the actions of Mr. Steven Lipsky, under the advice or direction of Ms. Alisa Rich, to intentionally attach a garden hose to a gas vent — not to a water line — and then light and burn the gas from the end nozzle of the hose. This demonstration was not done for scientific study but to provide local and national news media a deceptive video, calculated to alarm the public into believing the water was burning. There is further evidence that Rich knew the regional EPA administration and provided or assisted in providing additional misleading information (including the garden hose video) to alarm the EPA.”
The court furthermore concluded that all the evidence of this deception, including emails calling it a “strategy,” were such that a reasonable person could conclude that they were “elements of a conspiracy to defame” the oil and gas company.