Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
"Gasland 2" screened yesterday in Normal, IL and DeSmogBlog was there to gain a sneak peak of the documentary set for a July 8 HBO national premiere.
The movie builds on Fox's Academy Award-nominated "Gasland," further making the case of how the shale industry's hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") boom is busting up peoples' livelihoods, contaminating air and water, polluting democracy and serving as a "bridge fuel" only to propel us off the climate disruption cliff.
A central theme and question of the film is, "Who gets to tell the story?" That is, industry PR pros and bought-off politicians utilizing the "tobacco playbook" and saying "the sky is pink," or families directly injured by the industry? Fox explains how the industry has gamed the system, ensuring the communities have their voices drowned out. The Gasland films seek to tell some of the victims' stories.
Another theme is the bread and butter of following any big industry's influence: following the money. In depicting the financial clout of Big Oil, "Gasland 2" shows that the oil and gas industry has gone to the lengths of deploying warfare tactics - literally - on U.S. citizens to ram through its agenda.
Much of the content in "Gasland 2" has also been covered on DeSmogBlog over the past few years.
Robert Howarth's and Anthony Ingraffea's prominent "Cornell Study" receives some good play in the film. Howarth and Ingraffea demonstrated that from cradle to grave, fracked gas has a more dangerous global warming effect than coal, a death knell to the "natural gas as a bridge fuel" meme. President Obama's deployment of American Petroleum Institute "jobs" talking points for fracking is in there too.
Former head of the Dept. of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush and Republican Gov. of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, also takes a beating in the film. His appearance on "The Colbert Report" is righteously roasted, the same appearance in which he lied to U.S. citizens and declared he was "not a lobbyist" even though he was registered to lobby at that time for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"Tailsman Terry the Fracosaurus," which demonstrates the industy's willingness to utilize propaganda on young children, receives a similar round of ridicule in "Gasland 2." Fox also explains the oil industry's use of Big Tobacco's Playbook through interviews with Naomi Oreskes, author of "Merchants of Doubt," a major theme of our coverage of both the shale gas industry and the Tea Party.
Steve Lipsky, who was left in the dust by Range Resouces and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is one of the central characters of the film. The major villain of that tale is former PA Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who helped derail and censor the EPA's fracking groundwater contamination study motivated by Lipsky's water contamination in Weatherford, TX.
While the prospective shale gas export boom is covered in some depth in the film, so too is the concept of the government-industry revolving door, particularly as it pertains to Pennsylvania. The Public Accountability Initiative's study "Fracking and the Revolving Door in Pennsylvania" is featured in the film, a study we also covered.
The Houston PR conference referred to in the film is one I attended and covered in some depth. It was a gathering of industry public relations executives talking among friends about how to best manipulate mainstream media journalists, divide and conquer anti-fracking activists, and intimidate local communities to go along with fracking operations that endanger their health and drinking water.
"Gasland 2" presents the audio of Range Resouces Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Matt Pitzarella revealing that Range hires PSYOPs Iraq War veterans to use their skills to pressure local communities. The film also features Anadarko Petroleum External Affairs Manager Matt Carmichael advising gas industry PR pros to read the Army "Counterinsurgency Field Manual" and "Rumsfeld's Rules," because "we are dealing with an insurgency."
Illinois Fracking Fight Wages On
The grassroots premiere of "Gasland 2" in Illinois is significant since a major battle royale is brewing over fracking in the Land of Lincoln. The battle lines have been drawn: grassroots "fracktivists" are fighting for a statewide moratorium, while the industry and major green NGOS are pushing through a bill that would regulate fracking, but allow the controversial and dangerous practice to continue long before it's been independently proven safe for water, health and the global climate.
With two weeks left in the legislative session, activists - informed by inside sources - believe there could be an 11th hour effort to ram through the bill.
Because of that, Illinois Peoples Action (IPA) and Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (SAFE) held a press conference in the afternoon before the film's screening. The conference featured Fox, a SAFE activist, and Illinois native and prominent anti-fracking author and scientist, Sandra Steingraber - author of the book "Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis."
"How are we going to receive our eduction [about fracking]?," Fox asked rhetorically at the press conference. "From an industry that would come into Illinois and do a third-world exploitation model in America, with the President in his home state absent, with the major big green groups cutting backroom deals?
"I'm here to say there's a model that's been used in New York that's revolved around incredible insistence. They said fracking was a done deal to us in New York and four years later, it's not a done deal there and it's not a done deal here in Illinois."
Fox and Steingraber will be leading a contingent of "fracktivists" to Springfield today on buses to protest against the regulatory bill.
Photo by Steve Horn