Appalachian Basin

Extinquishing the Flaming Faucet, Exploding the Myth

Winston Churchill famously said “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” and the flaming faucet scene in Gasland is the proof.  A Google search of “flaming faucet” and “Gasland” returns 2,120 results, many of which refer to it as a “smoking gun” or sarcastically ask readers whether they can light their water on fire.  Still others repeat the lie that hydraulic fracturing caused what happened in the movie, despite repeated attempts by the State of Colorado to correct the record.  Yet, the image persists.  We have done our best to get the truth out here and here, but Google has offered a new way to tackle it using its newspaper archives.  Our friend Nick Grealy at Shale Gas Info pointed us toward this resource and we found some very convincing new (really old) evidence methane migration has been setting faucets on fire for decades in areas with no active natural gas exploration or development.

Nick brought this one to our attention.  It’s about two houses near Edmondton, Alberta who experiencing flaming faucets in 1973.  Notice that natural gas development had nothing to do with it.

This got us to thinking.  Could there be other similar cases documented in the Google archives?  Yes, it turns out there are several.  Here’s another story, from 1982, about “firewater” from a place by the unusual name of Tywhoppity Bottoms, Kentucky,  that is quite revealing:

This isn’t all.  Indeed, there are several other cases.  Here’s one from 1960 that appeared in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.  It is another “firewater” story from Hector, Minnesota where, once again, no natural gas development was anywhere to be found.  The story was also picked up in the Toledo Blade.







Now, let’s go back even further, before I was born (just barely) to January, 1951 when this little piece appeared in a newspaper known as the Spokeman-Review about an event in Klamath Falls, Oregon.  Note the ancient reference to “fire-water.”  And, Dylan Ratigan thought he was being clever using that title for his MSNBC series!

Finally, here’s one from Pennsylvania, where a residential subdivision experienced what the state officials described as “incredibly common” in 1984 because “people do not vent their (water) wells.”  He want on to say “In most wells in Pennsylvania, there is gas.”

Note how the state official also talks about methane migration issues with water wells throughout Pennsylvania, primarily in cases where water wells have not been properly vented.

What all these cases illustrate is that methane migration is anything but new, has absolutely nothing to do with hydraulic fracturing and is primarily an issue where water wells have not been properly vented.  Will someone please tell Josh Fox?  Supposedly, he’s my neighbor here in Wayne County, but somehow I doubt he’d take my call.  He’s already onto his next con job.  But, the good news is that truth does eventually win out.  Churchill had something to say about that, too.  Another of his quotes, somewhat less well known, is “Truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is.”  Yeah, that’s about right.

  • Kilgour Farms
    Posted at 18:47h, 07 August Reply
  • Bryant
    Posted at 21:37h, 07 August Reply

    The flaming faucet is a perfect example of the misinformation on this entire subject.
    Harvesting our Natural Gas!
    Churchills, quote sums up the entire campaign behind this subject.

    “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on”

    Thanks EID another myth, BUSTED!

  • Landrefugee
    Posted at 09:57h, 08 August Reply

    Talk about crying wolf. This appears to be a natural occurance all over this county, I have no doubts that there has been methane migration that was mitigated by the drilling companies & taken care of but when and why don’t we see these accounts on the news to stop the lies. Should’nt someone make a documentary debunking gaslies by visiting and confronting those who perpetrated them in the movie.

  • Stan Scobie
    Posted at 11:37h, 08 August Reply


    In a WV report:

    “Two wells of 1,312 tested in Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties turned up with potentially dangerous levels of methane.”

    According to data from CHK:

    That is about 0.1% of baseline/pre gas drilling water wells with flaming faucet potential.

    The scientifically ungrounded anecdotal reports suggesting that high levels of methane are fairly common are confusing, troublesome, reckless and irresponsible.

    Stanley R Scobie, Ph.D.

    • OurLand
      Posted at 14:27h, 08 August Reply


      “The scientifically ungrounded anecdotal reports suggesting that high levels of methane are fairly common are confusing, troublesome, reckless and irresponsible.”

      Nice try….Your statement is spin grouping all as high levels of methane.

      Answer one question:

      In methane rich areas is it uncommon to have methane in the aquifers prior to any Natural gas harvesting?

      Simple…….,YES or NO?

      Bryant La Tourette,So.Hn.

    • OurLand
      Posted at 11:06h, 09 August Reply

      A friend of mine lives just over the border in PA his baby boy was getting sick ever time after drinking the water they gave him.
      He took his boy to the Dr. the boy was having a reaction to the fluoride in the “ bottle” “water” they were buying.( I bet you , you were breaking out in hives before you heard bottled water sicko’s)
      They were concerned about the village water with all the “confusing, troublesome, reckless and irresponsible” misinformation. They used there village water for everything but drinking. Fortunately a customer of his specializes in water testing. He took a sample of the water from the faucet to have tested. The water checked out fine and was inline with the village water test.

      So if the water is so polluted and poisoned why is it villages and the water dept within them are not making the papers?

      Follow the money Who looses? If we produce our own Oil and Gas here in the USA under the tightest regulations in the world?
      You are but pawns for $300 a barrel energy……

  • SideShowBob
    Posted at 18:40h, 08 August Reply

    I just posted this link on the EID Facebook page:

    Colorado’s current Governor comes down hard on the flaming faucet myths. Interestingly, he’s a veteran of the oil & gas industry, but then became involved in the brewing business. Those who brew quality beers are quite concerned about water quality, so it is quite significant he would take this much welcomed position. Atta boy Gov..!!

  • Landrefugee
    Posted at 20:38h, 08 August Reply

    Stan…. Really….. c-mon so many know better and those who don’t well they don’t

  • Don’t Tread On Our Rights! | Energy In Depth – Northeast Marcellus Initiative
    Posted at 09:23h, 02 September Reply

    […] well staffed and well paid. They spread fear with partial truths.  They know full well that the water faucets in Dimock, Pennsylvania and elsewhere were being lit on fire twenty five years ago but paint it as if it was caused by recent natural gas exploration.  They claimed the discharge of […]

  • When Does a Duke Get Demoted to an Earl? | Energy In Depth – Northeast Marcellus Initiative
    Posted at 14:14h, 06 October Reply

    […] The Commonwealth, and natural gas producers operating in the Marcellus,  have embarked upon an extensive baseline water testing effort to better understand the subsurface dynamic facing the Commonwealth’s private water wells.  In fact, some operators are now collecting sampling data as far as 4,000 feet from proposed wellpads, including area’s where no drilling has, or will, take place.  The data is reportedly piling up and confirms what residents of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York already knew.  Methane in water wells existed long before the natural gas industry’s arrival.  […]

  • Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance » Blog Archive » The Fox Theater of the Absurd
    Posted at 11:04h, 09 November Reply

    […] this episode.  It is often found in shallow geologic formations and finds its way to the surface, yielding faucets that flame if someone lights them.  Indeed, the very place where Fox filmed one of these episodes had been investigated before he […]

  • The Woodstock Mentality on Energy: Crawl in a Hole SomewhereNatural Gas Now
    Posted at 06:18h, 03 April Reply

    […] knows, for example, hydraulic fracturing has zero to do with methane issues that have resulted in flaming faucets numerous places where there’s no fracking. So, to avoid directly asserting fracking has ever polluted groundwater (which, according to EPA […]

  • Fracking Awesome |
    Posted at 14:21h, 20 August Reply

    […] The presence of migrating methane gas in water wells occurs naturally from time to time and has for hundreds of years, as folks with well water know. Notice how the propagandists are careful to never actually say that […]

  • Randy Jump
    Posted at 11:36h, 04 September Reply

    does methane naturally release in wells near natural methane sequestration? yes. this is why they fracture those aeas and collect it in wells to sell. does fracturing methane containing rock release methane into drinking water wells near them? yes. and seepage from materials used to fracure the rock also enters the drinking water wells. that we know it occurs naturally points to the ability to do it with the machinations of man. if it didn’t happen before and it does now points a finger. i am not a big fan of ‘therefore because of it’ but this has more than overwhelming coincidence. it is caused by the frakking and is not a hoax.

    • dianne
      Posted at 09:44h, 26 April Reply

      thank you for the most reasonable response I’ve been able to find.

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