This week the debate over hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) intensified in New York State after a proposal to allow fracking on a limited basis was leaked. Now, Gasland director (and Our Hero) Josh Fox has weighed in with a new 18-minute video, The Sky is Pink, addressed directly to Governor Cuomo, who has said he wants his policy decision about hydraulic fracturing to be one “based on science.” Fox gladly runs with that, and argues that “just as there is no safe cigarette, there is no safe drilling.”
I agree with Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell: the industry’s own leaked documents do the heavy lifting in this film, to devastating effect. Reports reveal scientific evidence of long-term problems with leaks in the concrete casing of the pipelines, wastewater management issues and health impacts on communities as a result of fracking operations. (Another story in this week’s Times about how drilling affects everyday life in western Pennsylvania corroborates the bad news.)
“Who would you trust? Paid industry spokesmen or the people bringing to light the documents the gas industry is trying to hide?”
And, as Fox reasons, why would fracking in New York be any different? That’s New York State, not just the city. “If [fracking is] not safe for the NYC watershed, why is it safe for someone else’s?” asks State Senator Daniel Squadron in this video. Indeed. We're also reminded that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposal does not have a plan in place to deal with any of the issues identified in those troubling industry reports.
Fox also indicts current media culture for favoring journalism about debates over a focus on investigation and fact-finding. To wit: what color is the sky? If you're industry, as long as you say it’s pink, well then, it might not really be blue like the scientists say. Voila! The debate is the story, regardless of veracity.
Fox asks, “Who would you trust? Paid industry spokesmen or the people bringing to light the documents the gas industry is trying to hide? Governor Cuomo, what color will the sky be over New York?”
Josh Fox’s The Sky is Pink is available online. He is currently at work on Gasland 2 for HBO Films.