Gasland – Documentary Review

In Gasland, producer Josh Fox makes the argument that natural gas drilling is severely harming waterways and human health, while regulatory commissions turn a blind eye and allow these practices to persist.

The documentary uses emotional appeal, manipulated point of view, and reasoning arguments to make its case. Anyone watching basic human capability and wellness tarnish, or multiple dead innocent animals along a stream, is bound to feel pain and sorrow.

A review of the film highlights these impactful scenes as they note that interviewed landowners experienced clouds of toxic vapor, unbearable smells, unexplainable pain, dizziness, and most notably water that burns when ignited from a running faucet (Johnson, J.D., 2011). These symptoms may very well link to fracking, as fracking brings dangerous wastewater, or produced water, to the surface, which must be stored and can be problematic (Bridge, G., 2012).

Furthermore, the director focuses his interviews on numerous people who are negatively impacted across the country, creating a sense of problem magnitude. The “redzone” was highlighted in some of the interviews, which is depicted in the documentary as a map of the wells in America. Viewers can see that these wells are built rapidly and excessively, and thus are subject to reckless error from moving too hastily, as Fox alludes (Fox, J., 2010).

Finally, and probably most critically, the film makes a crucial argument that fracking is unjustly exempt from regulations, most notably the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. This is not an exaggeration by Fox, as a replica of the Congressional text of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 confirms that, “Section 322 amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to exempt certain hydraulic fracturing techniques from EPA regulations,” (2005).

The documentary showcases defenders of natural gas as being certain there are no issues, and also revealed EPA information and EPA veterans reporting that investigations of the hazardous materials were toxic, yet not a risk (Fox, J., 2010). This argument is effective in captivating Gasland’s message, along with the manipulated point of view and emotional appeal.

While the documentary is heart-rending, there are pieces and perspectives ignored, like the notion that fracking may be less harmful than other energy sources, the voices of the energy industry, and reports indicating that methane water contamination can be naturally occurring.

Natural gas produced for electricity does produce waste, but “generates half of the CO2 that coal does, almost no SO2 or Hg, less NOx and particulates than burning coal, and does not generate billions of tons of toxic coal ash each year” (Jackson, et. al., 2014).

If we do not utilize our natural gas reserves, we are going to keep clinging to the coal monster.

John Hanger, Secretary of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was interviewed by Josh Fox (2010) and noted that “There is no such thing as a perfect energy source”, and we must make tradeoffs, bringing us to the voices of the power industry.

Consumers have a wicked demand for energy because more energy leads to a higher standard of living, and industry producers are simply trying to fulfill their invoices. It makes economic sense to use natural gas as the price has fallen significantly since fracking took off in the United States in 2005 (Kelman, J., 2022).

Finally, these allegations of fracking being the sole cause of flammable water may not be accurate. There have been numerous reports debunking Fox’s most impactful contention. To point out one example, scientists reported that throughout Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, methane has been naturally present for at least 2000 years (Molofsky, L., et. al., 2013).

Evidently, the documentary did not consider society’s iffy energy alternatives or holistic perspective and left out important evidence of plausible causes to water contamination.

Of course, energy demand must be met. Yet, I am deeply disturbed by the utter disregard by regulatory organizations to protect drinking water.

Even if the water burning on fire is not from fracking, there still ought to be an investigation. Overall, this film really urged me to share this information with everyone I know and advocate for regulatory environmental protections on natural gas wells. We have the opportunity to make natural gas clean, and to secure people’s liberties and independence, we must.

This documentary is a must watch but proceed with caution. You may cry, and don’t take everything you view at firsthand.


Bridge, G. (2012). [Review of Gasland, by J. Fox]. Area, 44(3), 388–390.

Fox, Josh. (2010). Gasland.

Jackson, Vengosh, A., Carey, J. W., Davies, R. J., Darrah, T. H., O’Sullivan, F., &

Pétron, G. (2014). The Environmental Costs and Benefits of Fracking. Annual

Review of Environment and Resources, 39(1), 327–362.

Johnson, J. D. (2011). [Review of Gasland, by J. Fox]. Journal of Appalachian Studies,

17(1/2), 281–283. 

Kelman, J. (2022). Basic energy science: A citizen’s guide to energy choices. Dubuque,

IA: Great River Learning.

Key Environmental Issues in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58, H.R. 6).

(2005). [s.n.].

Molofsky, L. J., Connor, J. A., Wylie, A. S., Wagner, T., & Farhat, S. K. (2013).

Evaluation of methane sources in groundwater in northeastern

Pennsylvania. Groundwater51(3), 333-349.

As always,

In Soil We Trust,



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