Scene from the Josh Fox documentary ‘Gasland’ in which a homeowner lights his tap water on fire. The gas-sparked "water fires" are still burning in Gasland II!
Josh Fox's documentary "Gasland II" opens with Obama bloviating about a "100 year supply of natural gas that's right beneath our feet" and the goal to "develop it safely" as well as a determined Hillary Clinton saying emphatically: "The United States will promote the use of shale gas. I know that in some places that's controversial" .
Yes, Mrs. Clinton, but we also know for damned sure it's not controversial in any of the gated communities or high rises where the elites live. Their kids don't have to worry about bleeding orifices, sores and lung problems because their water and air, the essentials of life, are contaminated, degraded. But see, the political elites have no use for these facts, since they KNOW Peak Oil has long since arrived (in 2005, to be exact) and the real reason they're going nuts cranking out shale oil and natural gas is because the cheaper, more bang for the buck oil is now receding. "Limiting our imported oil costs" is merely useful PR for the sheep or the proles, since 95% of all the shale oil is sent overseas anyway.
Anyway, past this blitz of elite blather, we behold Josh Fox and his home near the Delaware River, threatened now by the presence of "thousands of natural gas" wells. As Josh notes, playing his banjo and after introducing the family home in Milanville, Penn.:
"Every day I wake up with the fate of my back yard and the watershed - the source for millions of people- up in the air."
The scene then switches to the BP Oil spill disaster in the Gulf and how the elites have kept us from knowing the extent of environmental damage there as well (this is before Josh's place is threatened, in an earlier filming expedition). We see how extensively polluted the Gulf is as a result of Josh's plane being able to fly much lower than other journalists' planes.
"It's hard to believe my eyes. As far as I can see the surface of the Gulf is streaked with oil- like ghosts on the surface. Nothing can really prepare you."
Josh notes scenes such as he filmed and reported were not visible on the news, since journalists' flights were restricted to 3,000 ft. and above. (Journalists would call the FAA to clear flights, but BP would answer the phone. Corporatocracy anyone? Gov't in the paws of the corporations!)
By the time Josh Fox documents the extent of havoc in the Gulf, especially with the use of the toxic chemical dispersants that "actually makes the oil more toxic" (damaging the sediment where most aquatic organisms live) and has been banned in Britain- we return to his homestead- he observes a news "surprise neighbor": a frack well. This was compliments of the Delaware River Basin Commission to open up the river basin to 18,000 gas wells. The commission had approved 15 exploratory wells, one of which abutted Josh's land.(A mile from his home)
Josh's home, he relates, was built by his dad (a holocaust survivor) in 1972, out of love and dedication. He used a diagram out of 'Popular Mechanics'. To his family, home was in the right place. Life was good, until receiving a letter in 2008, that the family home was atop a shale deposit, part of the Marcellus Shale - the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas".
The letter indicated a "signing bonus" of $100,000 if he only let the gas frackers "frack"
As Josh noted: "The F-word isn't in the dark anymore. It's in the top three words used in 2011, behind Occupy and deficit."
He adds that "with one to two million wells projected, America is in a fracking frenzy".
But for whom? Not for the elites, or one percenters or toffy-nosed political class who lord it over us proles! They are safely ensconced in tucked away communities where rigorous regulations or locations protect them. It is the ordinary hoi polloi who are burdened by the extreme costs of this crude form of energy extraction, as Josh then proceeds to show.
The frackers claim, and a new Denver Post editorial yesterday attempted to bolster, the notion that "fracking is safe for water". But IF it is, why is fracking exempt from compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act? Surely, NO exemption is needed if it was truly safe. Logically, the only reason one would need the exemption from the Act is if it patently wasn't! According to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, shown on screen shots 14 minutes into the documentary, the industry doesn't have to tell the public of the chemicals they're using.
The scenes then switch to the families affected, including those in Dimock, PA, featuring a '60 Minutes' snippet where Leslie Stahl asks a group of homeowners 'How many have lost their water supply?" and all raise their hands.
One of the home owners exclaims on having gas in the water, and that he can actually fill up a jug - shake it and light it, and he proceeds to do so to demonstrate. A magic trick? A deception? Hell no! Only the ungodly truth of what the fracker PR firms like Hill and Knowlton are trying to deny. (These are the same twerps that tried to represent smoking tobacco as ok and fine and dandy.)
Just as H&K's PR hacks earlier claimed smoking didn't cause cancer, they now have the frackers claiming they don't believe the flaming water was caused by fracking chemicals. Well, by what then, inflammatory fairies? Anyone who believes them needs to read the PR expose book, Toxic Sludge is Good for You, by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, based on the 1990s tactic of toxic industries to try to soft sell the use of their sludge in fertilizers.
The Dimock families, finally having had enough, banded together to sue Cabot Oil & Gas. One former Cabot worker, now a witness for the families, is quoted as saying:
'We feel like horses being pushed toward a dirty hole. And you know, horses won't drink bad water. They just won't do it"
And as Fox adds at this point: "Or having to tell your kids they can't swim or fish in the water."
Victoria Switzer, one powerful spokesperson, recounts how the families begged Cabot for water. She notes they were originally told there's be only one well and now there were 30. Truth anyone? She then holds a map of the area showing them all, adding: "I dread to imagine what will happen to property values out here. How would you advertise this house? Bring your own water?"
But the issue isn't facetious for the families, kids, elderly who have to be subjected to this crap. Sadly, Dimock wasn't alone, since as Josh notes "a huge change had swept across Pennsylvania, after Governor Ed Rendell had rolled out the carpet for the gas drilling industry."
Well, we already know - as I exposed earlier - that though a nominal "Dem"- like so many these days- Rendell is actually a Neoliberal punk tool and part of the 'Fix the Debt' battalion now trying to push through the Chained CPI (see also; http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2013/01/fix-debt-cover-to-undermine-your-future.html ) As I noted therein:
"Philadelphia magazine notes that Rendell is currently a “corporate consigliere Greenhill & Co investment bank” and the co-chair of “Fix the Debt” — a “blue-chip cabal of 130-plus plutocrats who have anted up a $43 million kitty to fund a multimedia stealth campaign/public relations offensive” pushing to both preserve tax breaks for the wealthy and dismantle Social Security."
So, we understand even before Josh Fox's segment, where this sellout turd stands. With the other Neolib turds trying to destroy the welfare of the actual citizens of this country! And if the punk has no sympathy for elderly who stand to lose the most via dismantling Social Security, why the hell would he give two shits about some hundreds of people losing their drinking water in Dimock, PA or any other Pennsylvania town? (And I harbor lots of connections to Pennsylvania, places like Lancaster, after tracing dozens of my ancestors back to those areas, including Conrad Brumbaugh who fought in the Revolutionary War.)
Some effort to ameliorate Rendell's gas frack frenzy was initiated by Lance Simmens (liason to Governor for Intergovernmental affairs) when he told Rendell: "We have got to get the people of Dimock clean water. This is the United States of America and we need to have this as a primary right for all of our citizens."
Rendell then agreed and asked Simmens what can be done, to which Simmens responded, "connect Dimock to a public water supply." This would have been via a water pipeline connection to the public supply in Montrose, PA. In the wake of this, various news releases (from the Dept, of Environmental Policy) showed the state of the Dimock wells, including: inadequate cement, cracked cement, or now cement, especially in the most crucial part of the well that's supposed to keep gas from migrating to aquifers. Well, those crucial parts had failed. (In part 2 of Gasland II, it would be revealed by a Cornell professor of engineering how 5% of all wells fail this way, so if there are 100,000 wells in a region that immediately means 5,000 failures and this after only 10 years. After 30 years the failure rate becomes 50%)
In a document released as Attachment A, dated Nov. 3, 2010, as Fox narrates, "it showed scientifically that Cabot had contaminated Dimock's water with methane." This then fueled residents of other PA towns demanding the Dimock water line be "a precedent for the state."
Alas, the ultimate cost of over $12m is rejected when a new Repub administration enters under John Corbett - who received $1.6m from the frackers, and the water project is killed as Corbett's spawn appear on TV ads and drink 'fracked" water - asserting how good it is. They advised residents to move, but the residents have soundly delivered a load of middle finger salutes. Interestingly, three of Rendell's former top aides (Battisti, Roy and Sexton), go to work for the gas industry in the wake of the administration change and Rendell himself joins a private equity firm with interests in the natural gas industry. He then goes on to advocate publicly for drilling without disclosing his industry ties. (And to think at one time I actually was a fan of this shit wad!)
Josh returns from Dimock to his own worsening situation and the only place left, the Delaware River, where the gas frackers hadn't despoiled the watershed with their disgusting wells and leaking effluent. But that was soon to change, bearing out Josh's quote of an old saying: 'you can never put your foot in the same stream twice'.
Flash then to Pavilion, WY where we see the frackers also demolishing the water, and the EPA issuing warnings to residents not to drink it. Louis Meeks, one resident, turns on the tap and releases water into a bottle. It's murky and smells like turpentine. The guy tells it like it is:
"This place isn't much but it's all we wanted. You want to tell me to shut my mouth? Well I'm not gonna!"
Meanwhile, resident John Fenton notes the chemical in his water is "something that's only been seen a couple times....ever'. He adds:
"If this country worked the way it should. If the laws were designed to protect the people and protect the environment and not to make the corporations rich, they'd have the chemical lists for the water,"
Flash forward then to the Barnett Shale deposits in Texas, and the havoc drilling there is wreaking on residents. We finally meet a one-percenter, a "self made millionaire" who owns a 12,000 sq. foot home which is dubbed by Fox "the nicest gas drilling pad in America". The proud owner proclaims that while he can control what goes on in his home he can't control the fracking effects outside or how it affect the home, including turning the water into flammable material. (Which he demonstrates for Fox by lighting on fire the water coming out of a hose.)
The self-made millionaire is also warned that if methane -laden water continued to go into the house, it could explode. Testing of the water shows: boron, methane, strontium, benzene, toluene. The lab that ran the tests added a note they'd never seen "anything like it that came from a water well". And "tell that homeowner, he can not use it for anything, even watering the yard." Obviously, because the grass will catch on fire.
Dish, TX is Josh's next stop, where the wife of a homeowner (actually mayor of the place) notes the prevalence of nosebleeds in her kids and that she doesn't want to see Leukemia flare up in them. As the mayor puts it: "Knowing what I know it's my duty as a human that we go and share our experiences here."
He adds that: "Three years ago I was a Republican, now I'm an independent."
We go next to Lisa and Bob Paar in Wise, County, TX. (Not far from Fort Worth in the Barnett Shale). But now, Lisa has fracking chemicals in her lungs, and she notes there "are twenty one wells around us." We then see photos of Lisa's daughter, covered in a rash and with a nose bleed. Blood is seeping fro her nose as the poor kids tries desperately to get some relief. Outside in the yard, Lisa has come home to dead chickens and a near comatose dog. She then shows photos of her own rash which looks disturbing like a case of run amuck impetigo or cowpox, extending from her mouth, upper torso, arms, legs to the bottoms of her feet - adding her throat would start swelling. Her face then drew p on the left side like she had Bell's palsy.
Tests disclosed chemicals in her lungs including: HCl (hydrochloric acid). She relates that an internal specialist has informed her that if the family didn't move they would "spend more time and money in hospitalization, chemotherapy and morticians than anything else."
She acknowledges the family has been forced to leave because they're all sick. The solution from the head honcho of the town?
"Move! They need to move! Different people have different tolerance levels for getting sick. Those who do need to take the losses financially and get out of where they are. Your personal health is more important than anything else!"
So, in other words, never mind the beautiful home and life quality you may have now. If the gas frackers move in and fuck it up, fuck up your air, water and your life, well.....you had best just move - take your losses, and leave.....or be fucked! Hey, ever heard of the "pursuit of happiness"? How can you entertain such if your health can be destroyed with one frack well pouring out its rotten effluent?
But we haven't see the worst yet from these fucking fracking reprobates and their corporate-bought, government whores. Oh no! The best is yet to come in terms of turning their attention on the "activist insurgency". Here, Fox highlights a Powerpoint presentation on how the "gas industry is trading notes on their war effort." We see the advice to PR hacks:
"If you are a PR representative in this room today, we recommend you do three things:
- download the U.S. Army/ Marine Corps Counterinsurgency manual
Because we dealing with an insurgency!"
(Best believe it, fucker! )
"There's also a course provided by Harvard and MIT called 'Dealing with an Angry Public' . Take that course, A lot of officers in our military are attending this course"
It also didn't seem to matter that the U.S. military had already allegedly ruled it was illegal to use psyops techniques against Americans. (Though truth be told, they've been doing it, along with the spy state, since Kennedy was assassinated in November, 1963. Thus, every reference to the claim of Lee Oswald being the "lone assassin" is also effectively a use of psyops against the American people learning the truth. This is as egregious and damning as the use of counter insurgency PR is against the people learning the truth about fracking chemicals)
Reference is subsequently made to community outrage, and how "if one loses moral legitimacy one loses the war."
Near the end of Part 1 of Gasland II, we learn now Tom Ridge, former governor of PA and head of Homeland Security, signs on to be the chief spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition. (The same group that fights any regulation of gas drilling). The next month the Pennsylvania Dept. of Homeland Security "begins issuing briefs that lists anti-fracking protest groups as possible eco-terrorists."
This is registered under 'Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin No. 131", issued 30 August, 2010. The Bulletin notice reads:
"Environmental extremism trending towards eco-terrorism and criminality was a rising threat to the security of Pennsylvania".
One retired Air Force officer living in Dimock was forwarded the bulletin,and posted it on a gas drilling Listserv. Incredibly, after doing it, Pennsylvania Homeland Security chief James F. Powers, wrote her an email - assuming she was a pro-gas drilling stakeholder. He indicated the Dept, of PA Homeland Security has contacts with pro-drilling groups like the Marcellus Shale Coalition. He also noted, that agents were "showing up at protests and spying on gas drilling activists"
They weren't only sending their collected information to law enforcement, but to the gas industry. Hearings were held by state rep. Lisa Baker into the misconduct. One activist witness testified that she "no longer feels safe in her home, and worries that her phone calls are being recorded and that her emails are being monitored."
Well, now, thanks to Ed Snowden's revelations, we know how true that is. Also she is likely listed as among those against whom action may be taken in any continuity of government scenario. Powers, meanwhile, bloviated that any and all communications were only about "situational awareness" - a typical generic PR vanilla term to baffle with BS.
Finally, we're introduced to the 'Institute of Terrorism Research and Response' - with which the state of Pennsylvania has a contract. Their goal? To assemble lists of terrorists and "anarchists" - including anyone who bitches too loudly about having their water polluted by frack wells or their air. Imagine that these delirious fuckheads actually believe no American has the right to be enraged, outraged and complain when the basic necessities for life are ripped from out under him and his family! What fucking planet do they inhabit? Maybe the same one that the yahoo PR pricks now attacking 'Gasland II' on various websites come from!
By this time, wifey had lost it and was unable to continue watching. Imbued with the sort of idealism shared by many new citizens (she became one in 1998) she couldn't believe what she was seeing and hearing. Was this the nation of freedom, first amendment rights, 4th amendment protections etc. and so on she had signed on to? The issue of the fracking wells and despoiled water and air looms large, since we are also near to supposed deposits here in Colorado..
Despite Janice's staunch refusal to watch Part 2 of Gasland II, I will, and will continue my review of Josh Fox's documentary. Maybe wifey will read about it when my blog post goes up!