In a 2010 documentary entitled “Gasland,” the process of hydraulic fracturing is portrayed as the catalyst for numerous problems across America. It is blamed for killing fish in rivers and for causing tap water contamination. But, is everything featured in the documentary "Gasland" accurate? The answer is no. In fact, "Gasland" promotes ideas about natural gas drilling that have been found to be false, inaccurate and misleading.
The documentary "Gasland" makes the preposterous claim that natural gas extraction is exempt from federal regulations. In actuality, the process of natural gas extraction is regulated by more than one entity. It is subject to a host of federal, state and local regulations that cover everything from initial permits to the construction of the wells and the water disposal.
One of the most unforgettable moments of the documentary is when a few individuals are interviewed about their tap water contamination. The insinuation is that because of natural gas drilling their water is so contaminated that it can actually be set on fire – which is then demonstrated, to the shock of the viewer. “Gasland” unmistakably points to natural gas drilling as the cause of the flaming tap water. As it turns out, Colorado regulatory authorities fully investigated the claim long before “Gasland” was even made. The results of their investigation completely rule out natural gas drilling as the cause for the flaming tap water. In fact, their investigation found that the cause of the flaming water was due to naturally occurring methane.
"Gasland" also claims that the population of fish within a 35-mile stretch of Dunkard Creek in Washington County, PA, was killed as a result of natural gas drilling. Needless to say, this incident was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and they came to the conclusion that the fish were killed due to coal mine runoff.
Another allegation that "Gasland" makes is that the makeup of fracturing fluids is unknown; however, this is simply not true. The chemical additives have always been included on the material safety data sheets at drilling locations. Drilling companies also voluntarily post the additives at fracfocus.org. A recently passed bill in Texas, HB3328, requires the posting on a well-by-well basis on the same site.
The documentary “Gasland” misleads viewers about the facts of natural gas drilling. The claims that natural gas drilling is responsible for killing fish and contaminating tap water are false, as proven by investigations. Natural gas drilling is highly regulated and proven to be safe, contrary to its portrayal in “Gasland.”