Appalachian Basin

Gasland Filmmaker Tells Pa. to Kill Jobs and Not Worry about It

After a brief hiatus from the media spotlight, Josh Fox attempted to regain some lost ground recently with a screening of Gasland Part 2 at Slippery Rock University, just north of Pittsburgh.  Fox reiterated his usual rhetoric, downplaying any benefits from the development of our shale resources, and then calling for lawmakers to kill jobs for hardworking families by banning hydraulic fracturing.

Below is the full video of what unfolded:

Let’s take a look at some comments made by Fox:

“What’s going on in Pennsylvania is a tragedy and a crime, it has to stop.” (00:40)

A “tragedy and a crime,” huh? Here is a list of things Josh equated with criminal activity:

  • Pennsylvanians having access to well-paying jobs.
  • Taxes and impact fees that are flowing right into local governments.
  • Reducing CO2 emissions to their lowest level in two decades, owing to the increased use of affordable natural gas.

How out of touch do you have to be to think those represent a “tragedy,” as Fox put it? Unfortunately, Fox continued:

“The answer to this whole thing is Doug Shields’ answer: just ban it, ban it and move on.” (14:41)

This begs an important question: If a ban on hydraulic fracturing were imposed in Pennsylvania, would residents be able to just “move on,” as Fox so eloquently put it? The workers making an average wage in the Marcellus Shale core industries of $83,096 – some $34,705 or 71.7% higher than the average for all industries – would likely disagree. Companies investing in local communities and infrastructure that those municipalities could otherwise never afford would also take issue with that overly simplistic characterization. But when you’re pushing policies entirely divorced from reality, such as this, then facts and data really have no place.

A ban on shale development in Pennsylvania is down right foolish given all the positive effects we’re seeing at the state and local levels.

Surprisingly, EID was able to ask Mr. Fox a few questions during the Q&A segment. Below is a clip of that interaction:

EID: “What started this whole Gasland narrative is that you were offered a lease for $100,000. Is that true? Because I heard an interview on Aspen Public Radio where you tried to go off the record when the same question was asked?” (00:01)

Josh Fox: “My family submitted over 60 emails from the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance (NWPOA) that said, ‘dear members’ … in fact one of them said, ‘now all of you on the waiting list are now members.’  Which means we got the same lease offer as everyone else in the NWPOA.” (1:33)

If this were the truth, then why would Fox try to get off the air during the interview with Aspen Public Radio when this same question was asked?  More importantly, why does the NWPOA still deny that Fox was ever a member, and thus could not have received a lease like that?

EID: I read an article recently where the flaming hose scene from Texas was said to be a hoax and a fabricated story, any comment to this? (1:05)

Josh Fox: The Lipsky case is cut and dry, the evidence is presented in the film. The EPA came in, I mean these things are not fabricated or a hoax.

The “evidence” presented in the film is similar to the “evidence” of the flaming faucet in the original Gasland. And just like that original scene, state regulators determined that the cause was not due to hydraulic fracturing or shale development as Josh suggests. You can read all about the Lipsky case here.

Fox then proceeded to ask me how I can continue to do what I do after seeing the effects of hydraulic fracturing.  I tried to answer the question by pointing out that, when everyone left the venue and got home that evening, they would turn their thermostat up and use a resource that was developed by a process they wish to ban.  But before I got a chance to finish, the crowd — uninterested in hearing any dissenting opinion — shut me down with insults.

“How do you sleep at night?” one audience member asked (answer: warm in the winter, thanks to affordable natural gas). Another asked, “Do your parents like your career choice?” – yes they do, although that’s hardly relevant as to whether or not it’s hypocritical to use a resource that you oppose.

This is all too typical from those opposed to shale development: they can’t win a debate on merit, so when the focus turns on the inadequacy of their arguments, they hurl personal insults and replace substance with volume.

Their strategy worked, as I wasn’t able to answer their questions (though I somehow doubt they wanted to hear them anyway). But that’s hardly reflective of a “movement” that’s inclusive of new ideas — or any ideas for that matter.


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