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Senior Contributor

HBO Gasland

I watched a documentary called "Gasland" on HBO last night that was very disturbing.  Granted the documentary is made by a man who is trying to keep natural gas wells from being drilled in his neck of the woods in Pennsylvania but the claims are still very disturbing.  The show deals mainly with the huge use of a wide variety of nasty chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing the wells and during the processing and pumping of the gas.  Large amounts of water and chemicals are forced down the well after drilling to fracture the rock  layers to allow the natural gas to flow up and out of the well.  They claim each well will be "fractured" several times during its life time using large amounts of this nasty mix and only half of the mix is recovered and put in open laggoons before it hauled off to be disposed of.  Often these laggoons have pumps that spray the mixture into the air to help allow it to evaporate so less product has to trucked off to be disposed of.  There were also reports of illegal dumping of these nasty solutions.


There seems to be a lot of problems with these chemicals along with natural gas finding there way into private drinking wells beacuse of the repeated use of fracturing the gas wells to help extract even more gas.  The producer of the documentary showed how several folks living near natural gas wells can literally light their tap water on fire as it comes out of their faucets.  They also showed how pumping stations scattered along the pipe lines expel noxious fumes and pollutants.  Air quality tests show that the natural gas pumping in the Fort Worth area emits more pollutants in the air then all the cars driving in the Ft. Worth area.  There were also many cases shown where people near these wells were getting sick from drinking their water and breathing the air.


An interesting show that if accurate makes it look like the cleaner alternative fuel, natural gas is not so green after all.  One of the more disturbing claims was that there is currently a big push to greatly increase drilling in the north east in an area that has the worlds largest unfiltered underground drinking water supply that services over 10 million people in New York city and Philadelphia. 


The documentary blames Cheney and Bush for relaxing the environmental rules regarding the drilling for natural gas and even even allowing the gas companies to no longer have to comply with the clean water act and several other environmental laws.  There was an interview with a EPA official who said that they were now basically doing little to nothing when it comes to environmental monitoring of these natural gas drilling companies.  One official blamed much of this on Bush and Cheney but said don't be fooled now that Obama is president as nothing has changed.   This documentary was eerily similar to the claims in the movie "Erin Brockovich."

5 Replies
bruce MN

Re: HBO Gasland

I'd seen a promo for the program and a newspaper review. Don't get HBO...beloved spouse says sitting on it watching baseball makes my a$$ fat enough.


On the comparisom between the two administrations I'm not going to defend the current one, but I believe it has to be said that this guy is so insistent on doing so much to garner bi-partisan support that it's blown up in his face. I'm thinking, and no doubt  he has been ill advised, as nothing that has come out of the "new Democrats" (represented in this administration by his chief of staff/baby sitter Emanuel) has ever turned into anything but cow ####...SEE: Repeal of Glass-Stegal.


In trying not to go too much against GOP political innitiatves, even while pushing his and his party base's own, Hypersensitive to coming in and tearing down existing programs and dismantling or shaking up agencies etc.. Those things would have been incendiary politically just as much as health insuracne reform was. The people wanted change, OK, I guess, but those from the middle and near right who obviously voted for him as he won the election and couldn't have on the liberal vote only, really didn't want to have to invest in or even witness any change.


And you can't have change without a certain amount of instablilty rearing up and the opposition was really, really p o'd after having squandered what they thought was going to be a long run of a majority position that they had earned by running against the very idea of Bill and Hillary Clinton...not much real conservatism in any of that, actually...just cultural revulsion which was good enough to get to that majority.... and they stood readyand remain prepared to put a match and some gas on anything..any approach that would have been taken..


But the calculation seems to have been to seek bipartisanship in an environment where none would be forthcoming, under any scenario..on any response to any approcah.


I'd bet that if there were such a thing as a do-over and he and Biden could have kicked into gear with no Rahm, no Wall Street scum on board they'd have decided to take the full blown "change" route. Ramp up regulation where they could, which would have included auditing and evaluating agencies such as SEC and MMS. Get out of Central Asia and the Middle East,, Quadruple the size of the stimulus.. etc. etc.


Doing so on any of that would have set off a right wing firestorm, but they were going to get one anyway.But there isn't a do-over and they can't do muchof anythign about much of anything in the partisan environment that they are in, and we are so totally f'd anyway as a result of this world wide banking and credit situation and the oil in the gulf (which is obviously being downplayed as much as both the industry and the government are able to and which will likely have a decades long tail and could lead to making parts of our nation unihabitable)  that who knows what anybody should do next.


But, yeah, this gas deal reproted on this program is just one more where everybody should know better but we go ahead anyway so that those who aren't directly affected can keep our "lifestyle". It's how we do things here.


And one more thing,...Wouldn't it be somethig if we had been blessed with the level of sophisticated investigative reporting that we have today with more networks and the internet back in the days when the general public actually gave a ####? I'm not sure that The Pentagon Papers, the Watergate reporting,  the 3 Mile Island investigation (or Erin Brokovich), would even raise a as much as a small flutter today.



Senior Contributor

Re: HBO Gasland

I'm sure it is hard for new administrations to deal with these lingering oversight problems as you have non-appointed "public servants" who have been in the job for years and much like the cops in the movie "Serpico" see nothing wrong with doing business as usual.  However after the recent banking scandals, mining accidents, an enormous oil leak  in our gulf and watching "Gasland" it appears that these government oversight agencies need some major shake ups and house cleaning.  If Obama's simply gets these agencies to start doing their jobs properly I would consider his presidency a success.

Milligan Hay - Iowa d:^)
Veteran Advisor

Re: Oversight "Committee"

Perhaps Der Führer und crew should establish an oversight committee to oversee all farming activities.... just to make sure that we are doing everything to the letter of their "experts" in the world of farming.....just like their "experts" in the fields of mining and oil exploration.

In fact, I have heard of a proposal of farmers having to pass a test in order to be permitted to farm the land.

I wonder if that will happen before, or after the government decides that farmers can not be trusted with their land and its ownership is transferred to the People's Democratic Republic of Obamaland.


Re: HBO Gasland

Senior Contributor

Re: Oversight "Committee"

Looks like Craig can't comment on the subject here so he tried to change the subject (tough luck Craig - you're not throwing me off).


I am a little concerned about this because they are drilling hundreds and hundreds of gas wells in the Fayetteville Shale of Arkansas. Make no mistake, it has been good for some people who have profited from it. I was forced into having a well in a section of land that I own about 1/2 acre on. This was over a year ago and to date, I have received zero dollars in royalties. I guess the well isn't producing much. Before they drilled, they trespassed on mine and my neighbor's land to perform the seismic tests. I didn't get any damage from it, but they cut trees and dug holes on my neighbor's land. We both refused to allow them access (for which they would have paid us $25 each). They did the tests anyway. This well is about 1/4 mile from the Little Red River, an award-winning trout fishery. So far, the river is doing OK but it is downhill from all the wells in that area.


I also got much arm twisting in this whole affair, multiple offers for less than fair royalties and in the end because more than 50% of the people in my section went along with the deal, the Oil and Gas Commission set a price higher than Chesapeake had ever offered and I had to become part of the well's interest. I did however find out that by not signing, if something goes wrong with the well and people sue, they can't sue me! That's the one bright thing on the whole affair if you ask me.


I would have liked to have seen the series. Maybe if I got royalties I could afford HBO.