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2010 Sundance Film Festival Preview: GASLAND

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If someone offered you nearly $100,000 to lease your property for natural gas drilling, would the allure of all that money seduce you into accepting the check without first looking into the consequences? Times are certainly tough and any one of us could easily benefit from such a sizable lump sum, but for filmmaker Josh Fox, something seemed a little fishy. Wisely, he decided to look into precisely what the drilling process entails and ended up digging up a story far more complicated and disturbing than he could have ever imagined.

As it stands, 34 states across America are now being tapped for natural gas (aka “methane”) — proponents argue that it’s a green energy savior compared to coal and oil since it releases far fewer carbon emissions when it’s burned as well as far less nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and other reactive hydrocarbons. Conveniently, our country happens to have vast deposits available, making it even more attractive since it would alleviate our dependency on foreign energy sources.

Here’s where things get troubling. The U.S. currently consumes an estimated 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas every year, causing great strain on our environment. In the 24 states that Fox visited (including a town just 50 miles away from his own), he discovered that in addition to aquifers being ruined, animals and children were falling sick, streams were rendered toxic, tap water could be ignited right from the faucet and adults were suffering from devastating illnesses.

He soon realized along his journey that there is truly a high cost to pay for this supposed greener energy alternative, including compromised agricultural land, ugly landscape scars and deafening noise pollution. The filmmaker hopes that GASLAND raises awareness, captures the public’s attention and helps all of us to rally around truly greener alternative fuel sources.

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