Filmmaker Josh Fox's Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland is a perfect primer for anyone unclear on what lately has become much ado about fracking.
Hydraulic fractured natural-gas drilling, or "fracking", is the process by which natural-gas reserves found in shale rock formations under the earth's surface — up to 2.7km below — are harvested for use via targeted boreholes drilled deep into the ground. The boreholes are pumped with a chemical fracking fluid at a pressure so great that the shale rock is fractured and the natural gas released. It's a very lucrative operation, as shale rock can be found deep under large expanses of the continental US and home-sourced energy pays big bucks to gas companies and the companies themselves pay residents high sums to lease their mineral rights.
However, as Fox's documentary demonstrates, fracking is causing great damage, both to the land being fracked and to the people living on it. After a borehold has been drilled and drained, variable amounts of the chemical fluid — the exact contents of which most drilling companies are happy not to disclose — remain in the ground and, depending on which studies you read, contaminate the potable ground water in the fracking communities.
Fox travels to fracking communities and meets with the men and women who claim their land and health have been comprised by the gas drilling project — and fracking-industry experts are also interviewed, providing an important counterpoint.
This is a much-watch movie. Period.