07/30/2013 05:38 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2013

Popcorn Preview: Gaslands Part II

Film: Gasland Part II (2013)
Director: Josh Fox (Gasland, The Sky Is Pink)
Genre: Documentary (120 minutes)

"We have a supply of natural gas that will last this country 100 years." --Barack Obama. There's hardly a politician around who isn't touting natural gas. Well, not so fast... Josh Fox is back. You may remember him from Gasland, his first film that upended the whole national debate. His family's house is next to the Delaware River, and 5 years ago he had an opportunity to sell the natural gas under his property. That's when he decided to investigate. He soon figured out that his back yard was connected to a much larger network... and understanding the larger energy network was critical. Josh takes us back to July 4, 2010... 75 days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Flying over, you can see the entire gulf is covered with a layer of oil, which won't go away until BP sprays poisonous chemical dispersants to make the oil sink. Unfortunately, the only thing that got cleaned up was the appearance. While it looks nicer now, the gulf is lost as a productive ecosystem for decades to come.

When Josh returned home from the Gulf, he found a surprising new neighbor... 15 exploratory wells, one visible from his back porch. That started a new investigation of America's fracking frenzy. You may recall that the natural gas industry is totally exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It's called the Halliburton Exemption. The natural gas industry doesn't have to tell anyone anything about what they're doing. Josh goes to nearby Dimock, PA, where the well water is so polluted that the town won a $12-million water line to bring in safe water to replace the toxic mix from their wells. But it's not just the small town of Demock... The Delaware water basin boarders the water supply for all of New York City. All over the country, there are lawsuits because of contaminated water. So why is it so hard to win a lawsuit when you can set your water on fire or when your family is suffering from bazaar fatal illnesses? As Josh discovers, the oil and gas industry owns government. Between campaign contributions, lobbying efforts, PR campaigns and sponsorship of junk science, the oil and gas industry has blocked discussion from every possible angle. Above all... they deny, deny, deny... same strategy the tobacco industry used for decades. And that $12-million water line to Dimock... they killed it.

Josh Fox is a soft-spoken young man who will go anywhere and talk to anyone to find out what's going on. And it's complicated. Take for example the issue of global warming. It's true that natural gas burns cleaner than oil. It would be great if that simple fact were all we needed to know. The part the industry doesn't want us to know is that the methane leaking into the air from natural gas wells is a 105-times more potent contributor to greenhouse gas than burning oil. And what about well safety? According to drilling industry estimates, 5% of wells fail immediately. And over 30 years, fully half will fail. So why does the industry insist the wells pose no danger? Because they can! This film is overflowing with information that should at least be part of the conversation. As I said, Josh Fox is soft-spoken. His film is soft-spoken. The information is so chilling it doesn't need a heavy hand. "If you think gas is expensive, wait until you're paying twice that for a gallon of water." Don't think it could happen? You'd better see this film.

4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
The sequel to Gaslands... now Josh Fox discusses the bigger picture... it's not just about the families living next to the wells

Popcorn Profile
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: TV & direct to video
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Amateur video
Primary Driver: Important issue
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Informative & Thought provoking

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