Contrary to Fox’s claim, the flammable quality of the water wasn’t a result of natural gas drilling but the result of naturally-occuring methane. Methane-borne water is actually a phenomenon with which even Gen. George Washington experimented in 1783, when he ignited New Jersey’s Millstone River. Even the left-wing ProPublica website explained, “Drinking water with methane, the largest component of natural gas, isn't necessarily harmful. The gas itself isn't toxic -- the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't even regulate it -- and it escapes from water quickly, like bubbles in a soda.”
In another visual sleight of hand, Fox credits natural gas drilling for dead fish in Pennsylvania’s Dunkard Creek. This claim, too, was debunked by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA reports that the fish deaths were the result of toxins released from a naturally-occuring “algae bloom” and not natural gas drilling.
Regardless of Fox’s cinematographic propaganda, the United States remains the largest natural gas producer in the world. But the dramatic rise in domestic production means that natural gas will inevitably have some critics. The proven safety record of hydraulic fracturing and the boom this technology is helping to foster an American energy boom provides an inconvenient truth for Josh Fox and his anti-fracturing friends.
Despite the doom and gloom of the Gasland franchise, natural gas promises to play a key role in securing our energy future. That is, if we stay the course. North America’s reserve of natural gas is so vast that it can supply America’s electricity needs for the next 575 years at current consumption rates. With that volume of proven and affordable energy under our feet, the nation’s future looks bright. As for Josh Fox’s Gasland project, the continued hysteria and half-truths will doubtlessly continue.