Gasland Director to Save Us All From Dangers of Energy Independence

If you’re like me – and I’m certain most of you are – I know one thing you can never get enough of is Hollywood media types using their entertainment platforms to lecture the “little people” about politics and national policy. The next one stepping up to the batters’ box is Josh Fox, director of the anti-natural gas drilling hit piece, “Gasland.” Having been nominated for an Oscar by his left coast friends, he may be using that high profile event to make sure that nobody is endangered by our efforts to develop natural gas resources here in the United States.

WASHINGTON — Oscar nominee Josh Fox wants President Barack Obama to order a national moratorium on the natural gas drilling procedure call hydraulic fracturing.

Fox, nominated for his documentary “Gasland” about environmental problems associated with hydraulic fracturing, made his plea Thursday at a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol.

“The point is, that he has to wake up to this now,” Fox said. “We would like to educate him. We would like to bring this to him.”

Oh, yes. If there’s one thing the president needs it’s to have some encouragement to further shut down any development of domestic energy resources. And it looks like he’ll get an earful.

Gasland was nine parts fantasy with a few sprinkles of propaganda on top. Fox’s efforts to depict rural homes as ticking time bombs awaiting only the right spark to set off natural gas explosions was opportunistic and sensationalized. Are there homes in rural Pennsylvania (among others) where natural gas leaks out of the water faucets in homeowners’ sinks? Yes, indeed there are. I’ve seen it myself.

In an area scores of miles away from the site of any drilling in known history.

The lands above the Marcellus play are rich with natural gas. When you drill a water well for your home – going down a couple hundred feet to reach the aquifer – you will frequently disturb pockets of gas which then makes its way up to the surface. That’s just what happens when you drill in the ground out here for any reason.

I’ve toured the modern natural gas rigs in use today. They drill down not hundreds, but thousands of feet to reach the really rich deposits in the shale beds, and then turn to drill out horizontally from there. The drill holes use two and three nested layers of pipes, each of which is permanently sealed with cement and drilling mud to prevent gases from coming back up through the wells. The rigs themselves are built on vast insulated pads to catch any spills which may happen at the surface due to catastrophic cascading equipment failures. (An event which happens less frequently than blue moons.) And when the rig is finally done and the resources played out, they don’t even pull the pipes out of the ground. They seal them off forever to protect the environment.

And here’s the real kicker: to protect themselves from environmental lawsuits, energy companies have taken to inserting probes into the ground for miles around all proposed drill sites before the first drill bit digs into the ground. Guess what? In these areas, they found natural gas seeping out in almost all of the test sites and ground water before they even began work.

The ground is full of gas. That’s why we’re there looking for it. Trying to pretend that the entire area was free of it until some nasty energy company came along to drill may be a convenient way to pocket a big payday from a lawsuit, but it’s not a reflection of reality.