Tap water isn’t supposed to catch fire. It does in Dimock. Josh Fox, the director of "Gasland," chronicles his search to discover what gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale might do to his beloved Delaware River watershed should he and his neighbors sign the leases they received in the mail. That search takes him first to Dimock and then across the United States, where he meets people struggling with unexpected consequences of gas drilling in multiple states. He spent time with citizens in their homes and on their land as they relayed their stories of natural gas drilling in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Texas, among others. He spoke with residents who have experienced a variety of chronic health problems directly traceable to contamination of their air, of their water wells or of surface water.
In some instances, the residents are reporting that they obtained a court injunction or settlement monies from gas companies to replace the affected water supplies with potable water or water purification kits. The film won a prize for documentaries at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The movie is not perfect, but the people it profiles are refreshingly real. One homeowner clearly enjoys the thrill of igniting the water coming out of his tap: he holds a lighter to the faucet, there’s a sudden “whump” of blue flame, and he jumps back, brushing his arm. He laughs and says, “I smell hair!”. A young rancher living in a smog of petrol fumes emanating from the wells around his home worries about the health of his cattle and the quality of the meat he’s sending to American tables. One burly old cowboy whose water went bad growls that the gas company’s word isn’t worth spit."Gasland" is an activist film, but its primary subjects aren’t activists. They’re real people. And while it does not aspire to the objectivity of a National Geographic documentary, it also sidesteps the Michael Moore style. Largely absent are the guerrilla editing and snarky narration that...
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