In the United States and beyond, governments are praising the “clean, plentiful fuel” that is natural gas, and tout it as a viable alternative to oil and coal. According to Abrahm Lustgarten at ProPublica, its advocates are calling natural gas a step toward a greener energy future due to the fact, they assert, that natural gas produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal.
Josh Fox’s critically-acclaimed documentary Gasland tells quite a different story about the natural gas industry and its extraction process, called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. As he journeys across the United States, he discovers the devastating environmental and health impacts of humans and animals in close proximity to gas wells, and realizes that the so-called “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” is causing more pain than it is worth.
After the release of Fox’s documentary, an oil and gas lobby group calling itself “Energy In-Depth” launched a public relations offensive against the film (apparently they didn’t like the footage of people lighting their tap water on fire). As it turns out, the website of the lobby group was registered to a Washington, DC public relations firm called FD Americas Public Affairs (formerly FD Dittus Communications) whose clients included oil and gas lobby groups including the American Energy Alliance, run by former Republican staffers Eric Creighton, Kevin Kennedy and Laura Henderson.
Today, when Fox’s documentary was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature, a major energy trade association weighed in on Gasland’s nomination. The industry group, the America’s Natural Gas Alliance argues on its website that “for our nation’s economy” we must make greater use of the “Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas” for the sake of the environment and economy.