Fracked-up drinking water can catch fire, Gasland shows

Tonight, HBO airs the Sundance special jury prize-winning documentary Gasland, which looks at the impact of natural gas drilling, which can pretty much be summed up in the image of a man lighting his tap water on fire.

Director Josh Fox examined the impact and effects of hydraulic fracturing–fracking–after being offered $100,000 to let his property be drilled, and HBO describes the film as “a 24-state investigation of the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing” including “chronically ill residents with similar symptoms in drilling areas across the country; and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation.”

The process of drilling, which involves using a combination of 596 chemicals and water into rock deep underground, was exempted from having to conform to the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act thanks to Congress and the Bush and Cheney administration’s 2005 Energy Policy Act. Now, HBO says, director “Fox estimates that 40 trillion gallons of chemically infused water have been created by the drilling, much of it left seeping into the ground across the country.”

Update: A few minutes after a link to this post appeared on Twitter, the natural gas industry responded to it with a Twitter post that said “That’s actually biogenic (naturally occurring) methane you’re seeing” in the tap water, and linked to a Debunking Gasland. Judge for yourself what that means.

Watch the trailer, and the full film tonight at 9 p.m. ET:

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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.