When a natural gas company offered filmmaker Josh Fox nearly $100,000 to drill on his property in Pennsylvania, it seemed like a win-win—free money for him, "clean" fuel and energy independence for America. Before signing, he looked into the possible negative side effects. With a little digging of his own, he discovered a foul miasma of pollution and deceit stretching from one end of the continent to the other.
Gasland is a muckracking exposé that gives the lie to an industry that touts itself as a "clean alternative" to coal and oil. Fox traveled the country, documenting case after case of polluted groundwater, toxic leaks and corporate denial. The modern gas extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," pumps millions of gallons of water and a trade-secret cocktail of volatile compounds deep into rock. The industry claims it's safe. You may draw a different conclusion when you see people who live near fracking sites light their tap water on fire.
The film won a special jury prize at Sundance in January and is being shown at small screenings across the country, particularly in the intensively drilled northern Appalachian region Fox calls home. The free outdoor screening tonight is on the main lawn of the American Tobacco Center at 9 p.m. —Marc Maximov