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The Return of Gasland

Award-winning filmmaker Josh Fox discusses the state of fracking and the sequel to his explosive documentary, Gasland.  


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I was campaigning door-to-door in the Pennsylvania primary in Wayne County, PA, knocking on doors for President Obama in April 2008. And many of my colleagues obviously preferred him to the opposition in the last election. But he needs to go ahead and represent the people who elected him. ...

They've gotta start paying attention. This issue is not going away. When we talk about Frack Colorado, Frack Pennsylvania, Frack California, Frack New York, what we're talking about is tying ourselves into another thirty to fifty years of dependency on the same old oil companies that are doing the fracking. This is Royal Dutch Shell. This is Exxon. These are the guys who have been playing with our purse strings.

Once they start exporting natural gas, we're going to be subject to the same international pricing pressures we are with oil. And those multinationals who are not Americans, they're multinationals with investors from China and all over the world, those are the guys who are now going to be controlling how much you have to pay for your energy.

MS: I was reading one review of the film —

JF: I don't read reviews.

MS: Well, this person said, "Although the film is about fracking, its deeper subject is America in the early 21st century. What used to happen in the far away Third World or indigenous regions, is now going on in the US. Call it karma ... seducing the populace with promises of "energy independence," a government that once vaunted democracy as its prime export, now disenfranchises citizens." Unless you don't care to give away too much of the film content, can you elaborate?

JF: OK, the fossil fuel industry has always considered a certain element of the population expendable. Those expendable people have been in Nigeria, in West Virginia, on the Western Slope of Colorado. Those are the people who are allowed by them and by a lot of governments to be poisoned and destroyed.

When you look at the map of ... shale plates all over America, the area of people being considered expendable by the fossil fuel industry has expanded to a lot of new places. You're seeing those people who are not used to being treated that way. You could call it exploitation models deployed in the developing world, you could call it an exploitation model deployed in West Virginia, but that's their M.O. That's the way they treat people. Like, "How did our gas get under their mountains?"

And let's move them aside, and what you're seeing is an equal and opposite reaction, like a Newtonian political equation. ...

And it's a stand-and-be-counted moment. For the president, for all the other elected officials that are involved in this debate, I urge them, please, we are here to work with you; we want you to work with the people — and not with the fossil-fuel industries who had their way with so many at such great expense. These are human rights issues. These are issues of democracy, and that's what the new film speaks to.