Sunday, October 26, 2014

When I started researching the politics of the Fracking Boom, I believed natural gas would make a good bridge fuel to a sustainable energy future and, if well regulated, it should be employed as part of an “all of the above” American energy policy.

After nearly a year of research, including trips across the nation to meet people from both sides of the debate, I’m convinced that Industry sees natural gas not as a bridge, but as a destination. As we enter the era of climate change, firing up the Methane Industry would seem counterintuitive, unless you believe, as most Industry supporters do, that climate change is a hoax.

I’m also convinced that companies like Range Resources and Cabot Oil and Gas, know that their operations have contaminated water wells. Yet instead of supplying appropriate restitution, these companies fight restitution, often supporting groups like Energy In Depth who publically malign victims. Once a person like Steve Lipsky or Ray Kemble have faced the loss of their water well, the first harm, they then face a second harm – fighting for that restitution. In Steve’s case, after 4 years of a 4 foot flame coming from his waterwell headspace, he still pays 1K a month to have water shipped into his home and has a $4 million lawsuit from Range hanging over his head because he mentioned in public that the EPA found that Range’s gas well had contaminated his water. Ray Kemble, after a 5 year fight, has a mortgage on a house that’s condemned across the street from an Industrial accident clean-up site replete with years of drills clanking and stadium lights trained on his house 24/7. Ray’s anti-fracking stance has cost him his livelihood, relationships and sometimes he feels, his sanity.

Industry claims not one case of contamination from fracking exists, as so many cases emerge it seems hard to keep track. How does Industry support such an untenable position? Polemics. They train their base to believe that victims are frauds, money grubbers and/or liars. They frame victims as energy hating, unAmerican environmentalists spewing misinformation who just want to make their green buddies rich, who support Putin and all of whom had methane in their water to begin with.

Fracknation was made in service to this narrative. And a second, similar Industry narrative – that Josh Fox and Gasland are the real frauds. Industry even made it’s own film depicting Josh Fox as a fraud; Truthland. Shelly Depue, a Pennsylvania farmwife who narrates Truthland, had a defective well on her property that evidence shows is one of the wells that impacted the contamination at Franklin Forks. Shelly’s well showed signs of failure before Shelly went on tour with “Truthland”. It’s possible Industry did not tell her, they would not be required to by law. We don’t know. Shelly won’t speak to the press.

While some facts can’t be known because of Silence Agreements Industry requires water contamination victims to sign, and because many people are so supportive of the Gas and Oil Industry that they will not speak out, some things can be known. The following is a point by point account of what is  known about the claims made in the film Fracknation:
Click here for the discussion:
Hope Forpeace is a Producer at AK Productions, an independent, non-profit production company.

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