Wearing a well worn New York Yankees ball cap, Josh Fox looks as if he is about to play pick-up baseball. These days, all Fox has time to pitch to is moviegoers, his documentary, “Gasland,” is currently airing on HBO, it will open this fall at theaters’ around the country.
He has become the face of all that is wrong with drilling for natural gas. He rails against an industry that wanted to pay him about $100,000,00 to exploit his 19 acres of pastoral land near the Upper Delaware Basin in Pennsylvania.
After turning down the offer, Fox began a personal quest to learn as much as possible about the industry and its methods. He says he had no preconceived notions when his journey originally started at his neighbors’ doorsteps, but as Fox’s travels brought him across the country he found a disturbing, albeit, hazardous pattern.
The more he heard and then witnessed, convincing him that the industry is too risky for Pennsylvania. His concerns run the gamut: from the chemicals used for fracking to proper waste management, and a strong belief that it will become the most polluting industry of this century.
His film has won praise and scorn, both from people inside and outside the industry. Some believe”Gasland” has lit a candle that is long overdue, shedding light on a reckless industry that needs to be reigned-in. Others have criticized the film’s seeming unbalanced approached and for promulgating a narrow, propagandist, view.
Fox is currently on tour with his 107-minute film. RockTheCapital caught up with Fox after a recent presentation in Harrisburg’s Reservoir Park.
RTC: What motivates people to criticize “Gasland?”
Fox: “The people who are attacking the film work for the oil and gas industry, or they are being paid off by the oil and gas industry. I have not seen a single piece of criticism about the science in the film, the testimony in the film, from anyone that was not on the take.”
RTC: Can drilling be done responsibly in the Marcellus play?
Fox: “We should not even be entertaining a conversation about Marcellus Shale, until, at the very least the four major exemptions are repealed. The industry is exempt from the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Superfund law. That means they can pollute the air; they can pump fluid into our streams and rivers, and they do not have to clean up the mess aftewards. Now does that sound like something that makes any sense in America?”
RTC: Energy producers often tout among the benefits to drilling for gas is less dependence on foreign oil, so how rigid should the standards be, since insiders will say they are heavily regulated?
Fox: “The only thing those exemptions protect is their profit margin that is what this is about. It has nothing to do with oil and energy independence.”
RTC: Experts estimate there is enough gas in the Marcellus to fuel the a large slice of the United States for 50 years.
Fox: “There better not be, our civilization on this planet will not stand another 50 years of burning fossil fuels.”
RTC: What is your favorite part of “Gasland?”
Fox: “When you watch the gas companies lying to Congress that blows my mind. You sit there and watch the gas industry lying to congress, (Fox says the industry rebuffed numerous requests to be interviewed by him), you watch them obscuring the truth to Congress, every time I see that I just shake my head.”
RTC interviewed George P. Mitchell, considered the father of deep- well drilling (read “Nothing Shale Low about George Mitchell”), indicated that he probably will not watch it.
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