Industry Fracking Up the Oscars

Here they go again.  Demonstrating that big oil and gas will stop at nothing to silence the legitimate concerns of real people about the safety of its production practices, natural gas industry trade group Energy in Depth has written to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the folks who bring us the Oscars) to protest the nomination of the critically-acclaimed film “Gasland” as Best Documentary of the year.  The ambiguously-named industry front group was formed to fight federal regulation of the controversial technology of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” regulation that NRDC believes is critical.

I guess these guys haven’t heard that old adage “methinks thou dost protest too much.”  What are they so afraid of?

“Gasland” depicts the stories of real people whose lives have been turned upside down by the ill effects of gas production gone wrong.  Whether it’s ignitable tap water, toxic air emissions, unexplained illnesses or devastated property values, these Americans from across the country can’t get help from the industry or answers from the regulators.  They live in perpetual fear for their health and in mourning for their lives as they knew them before gas production came to town.  These are legitimate stories and they must be told as our country contemplates how to best regulate oil and gas production to protect the health and safety of families across the nation.  And the artfulness with which director Josh Fox brings them to light deserves to be honored.

Energy in Depth has attacked “Gasland” from practically the day it won the jury prize for best documentary at Sundance and was consequently picked up by HBO, widely circulating a so-called “debunking” of the film.  And “Gasland” has responded, circulating its own “de-debunking” providing factual support for the claims it makes.

If Energy in Depth and the industry it represents really want to rehabilitate their image with the American public, they should stop trying to squash the opposition or hush legitimate concerns. Instead, they should support the kinds of enhanced regulation at the federal and state levels that might help to alleviate the impacts their development practices have on real people and their communities – the kind portrayed in “Gasland.”