Gasland is just plain wrong. And hugely damaging.


Public opinion in the UK has been hugely influenced by the movie “Gasland” which showed inter alia gas coming out of a domestic water tap (or as the Americans say, “faucet”) and being set alight.  A dramatic image which has entered the public mind – and is replayed regularly by the BBC.

It was about time someone took a serious look at Gasland’s claims, and an Irish journalist, Phelim McAleer, has done just that.  He’s made a film about it.  It’s called “Fracknation”, and I saw it on Feb 8th at its Brussels première.

It systematically goes through Gasland’s claims, and knocks them down one by one.  And Phelim McAleer also attempted to challenge the producer of Gasland, Josh Fox, who proved extremely reluctant to defend Gasland’s errors on camera.  It was a bit like one of those BBC “Cowboy Tradesman” shows where the good guys chase the bad guys, who try to avoid facing the camera or answering the questions.

Take the “Burning methane out of the faucet” line.  McAleer provides solid evidence that methane was found in tap-water and well water in the USA long before fracking was thought of.  George Washington noted St. Elmo’s fire on the local marshes. The film shows a fountain fed from a well drilled early in the 20th century which has been playing, and burning, for years.  This methane-in-water issue can arise either because ordinary water wells cut into gas-rich shale beds, or simply because organic material in the soil decomposes.  There is no evidence of gas from fracking getting into water supplies.

Gasland features a household in Dimock, a small town in the Marcellus field in Pennsylvania, who have claimed that their well is polluted.  We saw bottles of very murky water, but when Mr. McAleer asked to see some water from the well, it was clear.  “Some days it’s dirty, some days it’s not”, they said.  Both the State and Federal environmental regulators have checked this well, and both found it clear.  But the household has a multi-million lawsuit against the utility company, so the cynic might wonder if they had an ulterior motive.

Meantime large numbers of citizens of Dimock say they’re very happy with the shale gas industry.  We saw local farmers who say they might have gone out of business without income from shale.  The State had proposed to provide a (very expensive) pipeline to ensure that the good folk of Dimock had a clean water supply, but local people mounted a vigorous and successful campaign against the pipeline, because they didn’t need it, and were perfectly happy with their wells.

Gasland features a rather lovely park in Los Angeles, Baldwin Hills Overlook, where according to Gasland, the air quality is so bad as a result of fracking that people get sick just by breathing the air.  But McAleer filmed large numbers of hikers, joggers and tourists in the park, who insisted that the air there was wonderful, fresh and invigorating.  Again, regulators have checked the air quality and identified no problems.  It just isn’t true.

McAleer also interviewed seismology experts on the question of seismic events related to fracking.  There certainly are very small tremors associated with the technique, but they are less serious than those associated with coal mining, or even with geo-thermal (which the Greens love to promote as a low-carbon energy source).

If you get a chance, do see this film with an open mind, and see whether you agree that we can’t afford to turn down the biggest economic opportunity for Britain since the North Sea. Find excerpts here. This is about jobs, and new businesses, and Treasury revenues, and energy security, and a strong balance of payments.  This is about economic recovery on a grand scale.  And quite possibly lower energy prices as well.

Oh, and in case anybody asks, Fracknation was not funded by “Big Oil”, or by the shale gas industry.  It was funded by small donations from many thousands of concerned citizens (it’s called “crowd-funding”), who are quite rightly concerned that black propaganda from the Greens is threatening the prosperity of all of us, and making us too reliant on imports from politically unstable countries.

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18 Responses to Gasland is just plain wrong. And hugely damaging.

  1. catalanbrian says:

    But we should be looking to minimise our use of fossil fuels. In any event shale gas is likely to go the same way as North Sea oil and gas. Once seen as a great source of wealth but now pretty much non existent due to it being squandered by reckless usage.

    • Thomas Fox says:

      No way is this world about to run out of natural energy, but food supply could be our demise .The genius of our Scientists and Engineers in energy discovery is beyond the understanding of most people,Fracturing of shale rock is but a progression to deeper drilling for thermal energy ,but to suggest that politicians can physically change the climate by reducing C02 is not possible.

    • DICK R says:

      If you don’t use an asset like north sea gas or oil what is the use of having it ,just to keep it in the ground ,like everything once it’s gone it’s gone .

      • catalanbrian says:

        It does not make sense to use up something just because it is there. As I have stated before I am not particularly anti fracking but I am against the wholesale destruction of our environment and the squandering of the Earth’s resources as if we were the last generation on the planet – maybe we will be if we continue down the road of destruction that we have started on, and which most people here seem to want to continue with.

    • Roger Helmer MEP says:

      Beyond shale there’s methane hydrates. We have fossil fuels for centuries. Worrying about fossil fuels running out is like someone in the 18th century worrying that we’d run out of charcoal.

      • catalanbrian says:

        Yes there may be but that still does not negate my argument for conserving the Earth’s resources so that they are also available for future generations. See my comment above.

  2. Paul says:

    It would be great if Roger could post links to Farage’s statements over the years concerning EU flood and bio-diversity directives and how it might affect the UK rather than rehashing this old canard about fracking.

  3. Henry says:

    I do love reading your blog, Roger. Thank you for continuing to dedicate time to it.

    With the wind turbine scandal still going strongly, may I suggest that UKIP produce a footprint map of energy sources and their impact on the land? This has been done before, but I would think it a highly marketable thing to do if you condensed findings onto a diagram representing the average 90 sq meter British back garden.

    Unlike other similar things, it shouldn’t be done to represent the footprint of energy sources to power 100,000 people, but rather the whole country.

    There would be three versions of this diagram. The first would represent what we have now – you’d see the thousands of turbines and relatively few coal, gas and nuclear facilities. The second would represent what liblabcon want by 2020 (still with all the necessary thermal stations!). The third would be what UKIP propose – no turbines, more fracking, more nuclear etc (

    This would allow people to get a really understandable view of the absurdity of our energy policy and the completely unnecessary and unjustifiable negative impact it is having on the British landscape. UKIP could further their position as champions of the British land. As someone who has paid the membership fee I hope something easily communicable like this could be produced.


  4. Mike Stallard says:

    Sometimes I despair.
    If only we could just get to the oil and gas which is being offered instead of being so utterly stupid.
    What a hope! It is almost as if our society has a death wish. I am reminded of Easter Island (once really prosperous) or the vast terraces somewhere in South America where a healthy society once thrived until the water was all used up.

  5. Ex-expat Colin says:

    I saw Truthland sometime back:

    I suspect that Truthland was not publicly shown in this country, and appears to carry significant evidence to refute Gasland.

    By all means stop burning stuff – do it when you have its direct replacement that at least meets the efficiency equation. Anything much less is plain stupid.

  6. Richard111 says:

    I would be happy to buy the CD of “Fracknation” and have some of the profits put towards ‘crowd funding’. Where can I find it?

  7. Richard111 says:

    Hah! I just watched Thruthland. Excellent! Very down to earth. 🙂
    Thank you Colin.

  8. David says:

    We must not let green,s screw up our Gold Egg.

  9. Henry says:

    I’ve just watched ‘The Monuments Men’, where we regularly saw German officers stand idly back and burn some of the greatest art mankind has ever produced. They didn’t flinch when doing it, so dedicated were they to the cause of their leader.

    The parallels with supporters of CAGW and wind turbines are obvious; mass destruction of the British landscape all for a totally discredited cause.

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