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This article is part of the FrackSwarm coverage of fracking.
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Gasland is a documentary film directed by Josh Fox. The movie exposes the dangers accompanying methane gas drilling of the Marcellus Shale. The documentary was released in early 2010 and made its national cable debut on June 21, 2010 on HBO. The film was created by Fox's production company, the International WOW Company, a company that describes itself as "a film and theater company that works closely with actors and non actors from diverse cultural backgrounds, including members of the U.S. Military, activist communities in sustainable energy and design and actors, dancers, designers and filmmakers from around the world to create new work that addresses current national and global social and political crises."[1]

The International WOW Company describes the movie concisely on its Webpage:

The film is about the largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. What is uncovered is truly shocking -- water that can be lit on fire right out of the sink, chronically ill residents of drilling areas from disparate locations in the US all with the same mysterious symptoms, huge pools of toxic waste that kill cattle and vegetation well blowouts and huge gas explosions consistently covered up by state and federal regulatory agencies.[2]

Concerning the documentary's footage of kitchen taps catching fire at homes near natural gas wells, in 2016 Stanford University scientist, Rob Jackson, told, "That doesn't happen often, but we have seen it," he said. "We've also documented people's water change from clean to contaminated over the course of a year."[3]

Film Trailer and Related Interview


Backlash: The Smear Campaign

Immediately upon the film's release, Energy In Depth issued a paper claiming to "debunk" the film's documentary evidence. Kevin Grandia, editor of DeSmogBlog, in an article written on the Huffington Post titled "Who are the spindoctors behind the attack on Gasland?", stated "[I]t looks like Gasland is starting to get under the skin of the oil and gas industry. I guess the dinosaurs in the dirty fuel lobby don't like videos of people who can light their tap water on fire after their wells are contaminated with methane gas."[4]

Energy in Depth (EID) is a pro-oil-and-gas drilling industry front group formed by the American Petroleum Institute, the Petroleum Association of America and dozens of additional industry organizations for the purpose of denouncing the FRAC Act proposed by Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette to regulate underground fracking fluids.

EID has crafted an entire campaign to delegitimize Fox's film, coining itself "Debunking Gasland."[5] Many Facebook and Google users have even reported "Debunking Gasland" ads popping up on those respective websites.

‎Josh Fox has responded to every claim in "Debunking Gasland" put forth by Energy In Depth in a piece titled "Affirming Gasland," which can be seen here: The 41-page report was co-written with Weston Wilson of the Environmental Protection Agency, Professor Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University, and Barbara Arrindell of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, among others. The document addresses industry smear campaign talking points on a point by point basis.

Gasland supporters reportedly on terrorism list

In September 2010, the AP reported Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell admitted that information about municipal zoning hearings on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and a screening of the documentary "Gasland," as well as an anti-BP candlelight vigil and other peaceful gatherings, were the subject of anti-terrorism bulletins being distributed by Pennsylvania's homeland security office. Rendell admitted that distributing the information was tantamount to trampling on constitutional rights, as the bulletins were going to representatives of Pennsylvania's natural gas industry.[6]

In November 2010, the Guardian reported that actor Mark Ruffalo had reportedly been placed on a US terror advisory list after campaigning in support of Gasland. Ruffalo attracted the attention of Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security when he organised screenings for Gasland and addressed the subject of fracking in the latest edition of American GQ.[7] The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, however, told told the Philadelphia Inquirer that "There is no list, we never even had a list."[8]

Movie Akin to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring

Robert Koehler of Variety referred to the film as “one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years… "GasLand" may become to the dangers of natural gas drilling what Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" was to DDT.”[9] Bloomberg News critic Dave Shiflett wrote that Fox "may go down in history as the Paul Revere of fracking."[10]


  • 2010 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize
  • 2010 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Artistic Vision award
  • 2010 Thin Line Film Festival Audience Award
  • 2010 Yale Environmental Film Festival Grand Jury Prize
  • 2010 Sarasota International Film Festival Special Jury Prize

Related Sourcewatch resources

External Resources


  1. International WOW Company Josh Fox Web page, accessed July 2, 2010
  2. International WOW Company Josh Fox "International WOW Company: International Theater and Film Since 1996. Web page, accessed July 2, 2010
  3. "Does living near an oil or natural gas well affect your drinking water?,", February 14, 2016.
  4. [1], "Who are the spindoctors behind the attack on Gasland?" Huffington Post. June 22, 2010
  5. [2], "Debunking GasLand." June 9, 2010
  6. Marc Levy, "`Appalled' Pa. gov. shuts down reports on protests" AP, Sep. 15, 2010.
  7. Ben Child, "Mark Ruffalo 'added to terrorism watchlist' over Gasland" The Guardian, Nov. 29, 2010.
  8. "Is Mark Ruffalo really on a terror watch list?" MSN, Nov. 30, 2010.
  9. [3], "Gasland." Variety. Jan. 25, 2010.
  10. [4], "Cook a Hamburger, Blow Up Your Polluted Town: TV Review." Bloomberg News. June 21, 2010.