Over the past couple of years, there have been occasions when I’ve raised the issue of hydraulic fracturing — a.k.a. “fracking,” the innovative drilling technique that has unlocked vast resources of oil and gas and brought about the shale boom — with certain friends, it seems that more often than not, their knowledge of the issue rarely amounts to more than the false association of the technique with the now-iconic image of area residents lighting their faucet water on fire.
It was an image peddled to viewers in Josh Fox’s deliberately misleading 2010 “documentary” Gasland, but the film conveniently neglected to add that Americans in areas around the country have been able to ignite the water from their indoor plumbing since long before fracking was even a thing. What’s more, even the zealous and ever-vigilant bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency, undoubtedly with their ears constantly on the ground for ways to link up hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination, have so far repeatedly failed to do so based on any kind of actual scientific evidence.
The idea of chemical-laced, flammable water is a powerful one, to be sure, but the whole film as well as the multiple lies masquerading as facts have since been debunked time and again. Apparently, however, facts aren’t a good enough reason to cut the innovation-, efficiency- and cleaner-fuel-hating blather. I haven’t seen it yet, but the — er, highly anticipated? — sequel, Gasland II, premiered on HBO on Monday night, and word on the street is that is that they didn’t just decide to double down on their most memorable and deceitful image. They decided the time was right to turn a garden hose into a flamethrower, and proceeded to present it as evidence for their foregone conclusion, via the WFB:
Fox’s new film, Gasland Part II, features a powerful scene showing a Texas landowner lighting the contents of a garden hose on fire. The incident is presented as evidence of water contamination from a nearby hydraulic fracturing operation.
According to a Texas court, the scene was actually a hoax devised by a Texas environmental activist engaged in a prolonged battle with a local gas company to falsely inflate the supposed dangers of the oil and gas extraction technique, also known as fracking. …
Texas’ 43rd Judicial District Court found in February 2012 that Steven Lipsky, “under the advice or direction” of Texas environmental activist Alisa Rich, “intentionally attach[ed] a garden hose to a gas vent—not a water line” and lit its contents on fire.
“This demonstration was not done for scientific study but to provide local and national news media a deceptive video, calculated to alarm the public into believing the water was burning,” the court found in response to a defamation complaint brought by Range Resources, the company conducting hydraulic fracturing operations in the area, against Lipsky and his wife.
Oof. Don’t forget that the first Gasland installment was actually nominated for an Academy Award.