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“Gasland” Director Criticizes Penn State

Even though he spoke to a crowd of Penn State students and faculty last night, Gasland director Josh Fox said that he doesn’t “have great news in terms of how Penn State is handling the [fracking] situation.” The Milanville native told the audience how natural gas companies came to his small town with “an offer that was too good to be true.”

As in most cases, it was. The writer and producer of this Oscar-nominated documentary went on to provide specific examples of families in rural Pennsylvania whose well water has been rendered undrinkable by hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of extracting natural gas from deep Marcellus Shale. Penn State researchers were key in developing this technique, which has been an issue for environmental groups. They point to leaking chemical solvents used in the fracking process, which now taint some Pennsylvania water sources.

Fox described how he spoke to a former Pennsylvania Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency, John Hanger, about a small PA town whose well water could be lit on fire as it came out of the faucet. Even though Hanger promised that the water was uncontaminated, he refused to drink a sample of the water that was offered to him.

Fox called the relationship between the wealthy gas companies and the politicians they bought out a “betrayal of our values in America,” and he also condemned the Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to donate unlimited amounts of money to election campaigns.

“We have the technology right now to power the entire world with solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower,” Fox said. “If you hear otherwise, it’s oil and gas propaganda.” He also called the companies “bullies.”

Natural gas companies in Pennsylvania have spent “hundreds of millions of dollars on smear campaigns to combat a documentary with a ten thousand dollar budget,” according to Fox. He also hinted at a sequel, Gasland 2, which will be released soon. It will contain more recent findings, as well as strategies Pennsylvanians can use to combat fracking in their own towns.

“The Pennsylvania Department of the Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Pennsylvania, and Penn State have failed us. It’s no longer an environmental issue, it’s a human rights violation.” Fox refers to Article I, section 27 of the Pennsylvania  Constitution: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.” According to Josh Fox, the fracking industry is “fundamentally un-American.”

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