Josh Fox, the director of the Academy Award nominated documentary Gasland isn’t surprised at the recent reports that oil and natural gas front groups are behind campaigns aimed at discrediting him and his film.
On Thursday, Brendan DeMelle reported on Desmogblog.com and the Huffington Post that a memo had surfaced linking the group Energy in Depth with oil and natural gas interests. In recent months Energy in Depth has been at the center of criticism aimed at not only Gasland, but also reporters at ProPublica and the Associated Press following stories that reflected negatively on the hydraulic fracturing industry. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it has become known, is a process where chemicals are injected deep into the ground at a high pressure to get to natural gas reserves.
The memo that DeMelle found was entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing Under Attack.” DeMelle quotes the memo several times including one damning portion stating that “Energy In Depth ‘would not be possible without the early financial commitments’ of major oil and gas interests including BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, XTO Energy (now owned by ExxonMobil), and several other huge oil and gas companies that provided significant funding early on and presumably still fund the group's efforts." This, as DeMelle pointed out, doesn’t exactly jive with Energy In Depth’s claim that the group is a, “project of America’s small, independent oil and natural gas producers.”
As for Fox, he spoke out on the connection when in Washington before a screening of Gasland. “Hopefully at some point the he said-she said will stop in the media and actual journalists will look into the science and realize that what Energy In Depth is doing is lying,” said Fox. Then I was able to ask the director what bothers him the most about the industry’s attacks on those who oppose fracking. (Video clip included below).
“Really the tragedy here is not that they are attacking a filmmaker or a film. I can go ahead and defend myself in the media, very publicly. But when they do this to a family in Pennsylvania, or a family in Texas or Colorado or Wyoming, they isolate those people. They don’t have access to the media. They corner them. They lawyer them to death and they basically destroy their lives and destroy their property, this is what is happening all over the United States of America.”
Fox’s comments and the screening were just part of his trip to Capitol Hill. He spent much of his time in Washington meeting with lawmakers about fracking; urging them to support a moratorium on the practice and to consider a revamped FRAC Act, which is likely to be introduced by two Colorado lawmakers Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Dianne DeGette. Similar measures have failed passage in recent years.

The fracking issue will be especially worth watching in coming weeks. Fracking, Gasland and Fox will all garner even more attention when the director gets to walk down the red carpet later this month. A win on Oscar night would mean an exponential jump in attention and, if DeMelle’s memo is any indication, that attention will come in both the positive and negative variety.

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