Two years after the first release of Gasland, fracking companies hadn’t made any change in their aggressive practices against the planet and human beings. Corporative greed and lust for gain don’t take into account humanitarian petitions and demands, have their own inner logic where human or environmental factors aren’t relevant. Gasland 2 extends and deepens Gasland‘s diagnoses, registers the unstoppable progress in global destruction.
Gasland 2 extends and deepens Gasland‘s diagnoses, registers the unstoppable progress in global destruction.
The film starts with images of Barack Obama in his State of the Union address, where he supports resolutely the development of natural gas industry; he says it has to be “sure”, but we already know from the previous documentary that there is nobody responsible for verifying that it is so. Gasland and Gasland 2 show that, in fracking matters at least, there’s no chasm between Democrat and Republican policies. In 2005, Bush Jr.-Cheney tandem exempted hydraulic fracturing companies from complying with the most basic environmental regulations, like Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act; Obama hasn’t limited at all this absolute exemption of responsibilities towards people. Whereas what has been indeed cut back are the budget and personnel of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or sometimes USEPA), the body in charge of controlling the impact of industrial activities in environment. It doesn’t seem that this organization, of all, was the one who needed this sort of cutback.
After seeing Obama acclaimed by Congress members (how many of these politicians are suborned by the energy lobby?), we find images of the Gulf of Mexico infested by extraction plants, with water surface turned into a viscous, bright film which is no longer water. From extraction plants stand out long tubes at the tip of which there are burning flames: the conflagration of inflammable chemicals. Fox overflies this horrific scene without nobody preventing it, perhaps -as Fox himself informs us- because it is Sunday 4th July, and everybody is at home, including security guards. Where there are many restrictions is in the access to beaches next to the Gulf: high, impassable metallic fences. We should regard these images filmed by Fox as a first-rate testimony to know the present state of areas subjected to hydraulic fracturing. “Security”, as can be seen, isn’t employed to avoid water and land pollution, but to prevent awkward, independent people from entering those zones and report on them. The company exploting the Gulf of Mexico is BO. But it could be as well Halliburton, or EnCana, or many others. There are various companies fighting for the gas extractions.
In Gasland three independent scientists warned about environmental and human catastrophe posed by fracking, and denounced the silence and excessive secrecy around this disastrous practice. Although their explanations were intentionally contained and restricted to technical aspects, what they revealed was shocking. A biologist picks up in this second part her colleagues’ denunciation: hydraulic fracturing in the Gulf of Mexic will have an extreme impact in Louisiana and Alabama basins, causes total destruction of ecosystems, environment will need decades, whole generations, to recover, if it is able to recover at all. Other independent scientists who take part in the film agree with this diagnose and demand the end of fracking as well as the implementation of renewable energy. An Engineering professor from Cornell University, former consultant in gas industry and very respected in his field, explains that fracturing will never be sure, because the cement used to contain the toxic chemicals injected in perforations can’t prevent the poisonous methane gas from dispersing throughout the subsoil, which pollutes subterranean water reserves. Another professor recommends federal Government to stop all the perforations in search of carbon, oil, and natural gas and choose instead renewable energies, like wind, solar, geothermal, and wave and tidal energy, which, well managed, would be enough to provide the United States with all the power it needs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely that politicians are willing to take into account all these warnings and advices. Immediate economic rewards weigh for many of them more than conscience and reason orders.
We do find some honest politicians in local governments and other posts. They have become aware of the havoc wreaked by fracking, and have decided to take action out of sense of duty. Fox gives voice to some of these upright persons, who can’t rise his demands and complaints to high levels of political structure. A mayor says that three years ago he was a Republican (which, for many of us in Europe, means the same as to belong to far right), and now is an independent. He thinks that Republican party, in putting towers and wells in private lands, have violated one of the country’s and party’s basic principles: private property. He says he feels obliged to fulfil his primary duty as a human being and American citizen and to combat fracking with all his means, few as they are.
In Gasland, Fox visited many people who had seen his lands and lives destroyed by nearby fracturing. He now visits again some of the people we already know from the first film, and presents as well some new cases. Kindra Anderson, a fisher’s wife, express the indignant voice of conscience that in the first film was represented by farmer Fenton. People who had decided to life in nature and raise their children in harmony with it see how fracking companies destroy their environment and their hopes. Arnesen says: “This is the place where we live, where we eat, where we sleep, this is our home; we wanted to integrate in nature, that’s why we are here”. But Fox not only visits aware and ecologically sensitive people; he visits as well a hunter, who owns a living room full of trophies as a big deer and other mammals, or a very rich man from Texas, who lives in a luxury mansion, with waterfalls in the garden. Both of them show him that the water of their homes is inflammable, and absolutely useless. They can’t even water garden grass with it: it would be as throwing petrol to the lawn. Their luxury homes have become ammunition dump.
One of the times Fox returns to his home, close to Delaware river, in between travels during the shooting, he sees that 15 extraction towers have been planted in the area, one of them very near him. The United States are deep in a frenzy of fracking, companies drill wells everywhere. It is a nightmare in broad daylight.
Fracking companies control an extension of land bigger than California and Florida states together.
34 of the 50 states that form the country permit already horizontal perforations in their territories: in 2014 there were in the USA between one and two million gas and oil wells. According to Fox, fracking companies control an extension of land bigger than California and Florida states together. It isn’t difficult to suspect that many politicians have been suborned for allowing a practice that, as shown by independent scientists, is deeply damaging to land, water, air and living beings. Massive industrial intervention is changing the landscape. In many states there are thousands of wells violating all the environmental laws. Trucks carry lethal substances -millions of litres of water with toxic chemicals in it- with absolute impunity. Water isn’t drinkable any more. Aquifers have been polluted and poisoned, maybe forever. Scientific studies have shown fracking wells have caused earthquakes between Ohio and Arkansas.
Aquifers have been polluted and poisoned, maybe forever.
Barack Obama goes on promoting fracking as a bridge to cleaner forms of energy. If things continue as they are, they won’t be necessary. Human race will have disappeared from the face of the Earth due to a pollution far worse than that which it can stand.
The only chance for decent people, says Josh Fox, is to reinvent democracy. The present one is nothing but a masquerade the big economic groups use to deceive people. As Fox says: “It is not fracking any more. It is our government system, and climate change.”
|Running length:||107 minutes|