Fracking Citizen Journalists

Yesterday my neighbor Larry told me I had to see “Gasland” – and I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know about it.

This is one of the major problems facing any activist- how do you get people to pay attention to your cause- or find your blog, or your video. It’s not as easy as “build it and they will come.”

From Wikipedia:

Gasland is an American documentary film written and directed by Josh Fox. The film focuses on communities in the United States impacted by natural gas drilling and, specifically, a stimulation method known as hydraulic fracturing.

via Gasland – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Hydraulic Fracturing is also known as Fracking (which was also used as a substitute for the F word on Battlestar Gallactica version II) and is a process that injects water with a whole lot of chemicals into the ground- so the gas companies can get natural gas out of shale. Parts of Eastern Ohio are prime drilling areas. I haven’t the time to investigate if this extends into OH-3 and Highland and Clinton Counties (I’d appreciate some help on this).

This isn’t the only case of mistakes with drills (and I’m not even going to talk about the gulf oil spill) – locally, AK Steel is deep holing Ferrous Chloride up in Mercer County. Drill a hole, pump caustic hazardous industrial waste into the ground- and pray.

Some of the reviews I read of “Gasland” focused more on the film maker and his background in theater instead of what he presented. The industry tried to debunk his story claiming that Josh Fox “has been recognized by the “Fringe Festival” as part of the justification of their process. They even remind us that then Senator Obama voted for the law that created the “Halliburton Exemption.” The New York Times even questioned this law- last year, before the movie was out.

Here is the trailer for “Gasland”

Last Friday I wrote a post on the tools of Citizen Journalism– and included video cameras as an integral part of the toolkit. There has been quite a bit of heated discussion on what the “qualifications” are for “journalism” – and while Josh Fox may be biased against fracking- there are biases in all media- from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc., to the New York Times.

I’ve been practicing this form of the fourth estate for the last four+ years on this site. I’m pretty proud of some of the stories I’ve broken, and how my investigations have connected the dots for others – including the Dayton Daily News.

We’ve just seen how a “music and culture” magazine- Rolling Stone, has brought down a four star general and his staff. Was it less of a story because of where it was published? Hardly.

Yes, seeing someone use a lighter to start a fire by turning on the water is sensational- because we’ve all grown up to think you use water to put out a fire. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969 and made Cleveland a butt of jokes across the globe- but also set the stage for the “Clean Water Act” spearheaded by none other than President Nixon- who apparently did understand that without clean water, mankind is doomed.

I don’t have time to investigate if Mike Turner voted for the Halliburton exemption or if he received money from the natural gas industry or Halliburton- or Dick Cheney himself- but I’m sure one of my readers will do the research.

When it comes to energy policy- we’ve been talking about ending the dependence on foreign oil back to Nixon (as someone once posted a very funny link to a Daily Show segment). What we haven’t talked about is how we’re going to make sustainable living a cornerstone for building all of our energy policies. Walking to work and walkable communities is one effort that could have a huge impact on our economy as well as building a fiber network to make telecommuting a standard instead of the exception.

But, back to the whole citizen journalism slant to this story. No matter what your view of Mr. Fox’s award-winning film- fact or fiction, it has gotten people talking and asking questions- and sometimes, that’s all that matters.

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