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John Hanger, Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Comments on Movie Gasland

John Hanger, head of the agency responsible for regulating the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania, said in an interview by the Philadelphia Inquirer that the movie Gasland, by Josh Fox, was “fundamentally dishonest” and “a deliberately false presentation for dramatic effect,” and called Fox a “propagandist.” Hanger was interviewed by Fox in the movie, at the end of which Hanger walked out on the interview. Hanger was formerly head of the environmental group Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture). He has sought stricter regulation of the industry over its objections.

Fox’s movie has come under criticism by others. Energy in Depth, an industry website, calls his movie “heay on hyperbole, light on facts.” Fox blames much of the pollution depicted in the movie on hydraulic fracturing. The movie shows water coming out of a faucet charged with methane and lit on fire.

Richard Stoneburner, President of Petrohawk Energy, commenting on the environmental opposition to hydraulic fracturing, has written that natural gas often occurs naturally in fresh water sands.

America’s Natural Gas Alliance, another industry group, has posted an entry on its website titled “The Truth About Gasland,” rebutting allegations in the film:

In the film’s signature moment Mike Markham, a landowner, ignites his tap water. The film leaves the viewer with the impression the flaming tap water is a result of natural gas drilling. However, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which tested Markham’s water in 2008, at his request, methane in his water supply had “no indications of oil & gas related impacts to water well.” Instead the investigation found that the cause was “biogenic” in nature, meaning it was naturally occurring due to the fact that his water well had been drilled into a natural gas pocket.

Professor Don Siegel at Syracuse University  told reporters in an interview that anti-drilling activists like Fox are distorting the facts about natural gas drilling. “As a hydrogeologist, I really am almost offended by some of the opposition that’s trying to paint a picture of what groundwater resources are like that is completely wrong.” He proceeded to list the “not-truths” about hydraulic fracturing.

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