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Flammable Water? Documentary of Nat Gas Fracking Debuts

June 21, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Flammable water. It sounds like a joke, but the director of the HBO film, "Gasland," debuting tonight, says it can be a side effect of natural gas production. Filmmaker Josh Fox set out on a journey to gather stories and footage of air and water pollution believed to be connected to natural gas, after turning down an energy company offer to drill for gas on his property in Pennsylvania.

Fox stopped in Wyoming and 23 other states, and claims he found plenty of evidence of health risks, with an extreme example in Colorado near an area where "fracking" - a method of hydraulically fracturing shale rock to extract gas - was being used.

"There was a large onset of fracking of gas wells, and then all of a sudden all of these people over that area could light their water on fire."

A spokesperson for The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, has responded by saying "Gasland" is "full of misleading claims and untruths."

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently approved new rules to require energy companies to disclose what chemicals they're using for fracking.

On the federal level, legislation has been discussed in Congress that would require the chemicals used in fracking to be subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act. Fox likes that plan and thinks public support will grow.

"When people see this film, they're like, 'What is going on? This is unbelievable!' There's an enormous amount of shock involved."

HBO will air "Gasland" on June 21, 24, 26 and 30, and July 5 and 9.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY