Photo: "Josh Fox" by Chris Tackett
For Gasland Director, Josh Fox, this has been a busy week. On Sunday, he was in Hollywood attending the Academy Awards, where Gasland was nominated for an Oscar as Best Documentary and on Tuesday he was back at work speaking at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas about the environmental damage taking place in Arkansas and around the country due to natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. With hundreds of worried and angry Arkansans ready to tell how their land has been damaged by natural gas drilling and the state of Arkansas nearly still shaking from an 4.7 magnitude earthquake Sunday, the largest in 35 years, as well as a series of explosive reports on natural gas drilling from The New York Times published days prior, there was much excitement in the air Tuesday night. I was able to speak with Fox about this and other issues Tuesday and he had some important things to say, but before you read further, if you're new to the issue of natural gas fracking, I recommend also reading some of our earlier articles on the issue linked below and at the bottom of this post. Here are the key stories that came out this week:
Hosted by the Hendrix Environmental Concerns Committee, the event Tuesday was billed as a panel discussion, but felt more like a town hall with citizens leading the discussion with their questions from the audience. Fox was joined by Calvin Tillman, mayor of DISH, Texas and Jamie Gates, from the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce. A representative from Chesapeake Energy was reportedly planning to attend, but declined at the last moment.
When I spoke with Fox prior to the panel discussion, I asked him to explain what his goals were moving forward:
Later, Fox described what he sees as the big lies being sold by the gas industry:
As for the panel and conversation with the audience, it was interesting, although not entirely surprising, to see that the majority of the questions were about the recent surge of earthquakes that have rattled Arkansas.
Since last fall there have been thousands of earthquakes in Arkansas - 30+ this week alone - many citizens were wondering if the earthquakes were connected to the hydraulic fracturing. According to the Arkansas Geological Survey as quoted in the New York Times, "while there is no discernible link between earthquakes and gas production, there is "strong temporal and spatial" evidence for a relationship between these quakes and the injection wells." However, that was enough of a connection for the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission to request on Wednesday that two companies shut down 2 injection wells thought to be connected to the earthquakes.
Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy and Clarita Operating of Little Rock told the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission on Friday that they have halted operation of the wells near Greenbrier and Guy pending the panel's next regular meeting on March 29.
While this temporary halt to operations is a small step in the right direction, it will only affect two injection wells, which means there are still other wells operating and more toxic chemicals being pumped into the ground across Arkansas.
Asked what TreeHugger readers and other people moved to action should do to make a difference, Fox laid out the big picture and the steps people should take to help get there:
"I think we need to go straight to Obama. He needs to know what is happening. If he called a moratorium on deep water drilling, he needs to call for a national moratorium on this. This is as serious. We need to get this issue on his radar in a big way."
See Fox explain what individuals can do in the video below:
For more on Gasland and to take action, visit Gasland on Facebook, @GaslandMovie on Twitter and GaslandTheMovie.com
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