Fire from the faucet


Published: Monday 30 November -0001

imageImages of people setting fire to water from faucets in their homes sets the tone for a new documentary purporting to expose the hazards of onshore natural gas drilling.

Gasland has fuelled the debate over the extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting millions of litres of water, sand and diluted chemicals into shale rock, breaking it apart to free the gas.

Advocates promote shale gas as an abundant and relatively clean source of energy but critics, including Gasland director Josh Fox, assert there are environmental and health risks. Fox, a Pennsylvania playwright, started asking questions about shale gas when his family was offered $100,000 plus royalties to allow hydraulic fracturing. He turned down the offer but many neighbours took the money.

The documentary includes interviews with families who signed leases with the gas industry and now regret it.

The gas industry disputes the film’s findings. “This filmmaker is not an authority on this issue,” said Jim Smith, a spokesperson for the Independent Oil and Gas Association in New York, an industry group.

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