My father oversees gas and oil production for a smaller company in the Permean Basin, as well as evaluate potential properties for purchase. He has 30+ years experience in the industry, so I wanted to get his opinion on the movie Gasland. I had him watch it with me while he was at my house a few weeks ago.

The movie claims that Gas companies do not have to abide by several “clean water” laws which the EPA enforces. I was told this is pure nonsense.

The movie claims (not directly, but by showing personal stories) that natural gas drilling pollutes drinking water. My dad said he’d be pretty mad if those circumstances arose on his property too. He oversees some properties where this sort of thing happened in the past (before their company bought the property). I was told that pollution of groundwater can happen if the driller does not follow the government recommended guidelines, or just does a shoddy job – either of which is bad for the company, the landowner, and everyone else. So, companies obviously want to avoid this situation. I was told one other interesting tidbit. If someone sues a large company and that company thinks it might be at fault, it is in their best interest to settle the dispute out of court. In other words, they pay off the person in exchange for that person’s silence. When something goes to court, it’s because the company is fairly certain that they did nothing wrong. It’s much cheaper for them not to go to court, but to “settle” out of court.

The movie also claims that the way in which gas wells “vent” gases, or whatever, is extremely dangerous. Yet, I was told that the EPA has strict regulations on all of those aspects – so the pollution has been kept in line with the law. If there is a danger in air quality, it is the fault of the EPA or legislators for not enacting tougher laws. The companies who produce natural gas will be sued or fined if they do not comply with the current laws.

All in all, it was interesting to see how the documentary “gasland” does not lie – except for possibly where it says that gas companies do not have to abide by the clean water act. Rather, it presents individual stories which imply something to be true – when in fact he doesn’t actually make the claim that it is true. For instance, the movie never claims that all natural gas drilling pollutes groundwater, but it does leave that impression. Its the sort of argumentation that if it occurred in a professional paper, it would be labeled “bad logic”. Yet, it can still provoke a powerful emotive response from the viewer. The maker of this film engages in the same sort of Rhetorical tricks that Rush Limbaugh does. They both use rhetoric to evoke an emotive response rather than logic to construct a strong argument.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *