Energy & Environment

Fracking kills… right?

Fracking kills... right?

Fracking kills.

That’s according to Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow and the latest celebrity to take up the environmental fad against hydraulic fracturing, the method of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep inside the earth.

It’s a process that has been used since 1947 but modernized to make it economically viable since 1998. Environmentalists recently hailed natural gas as the clean alternative to oil, but that was before the discovery in 2010 that the Sierra Club had accepted $26 million in donations from industry insiders.

The Sierra Club has since refused to take money from companies like Chesapeake Energy, and now the environmental fashion is against fracking, as evidenced by Ono and her son Sean Lennon’s Jan. 11 magical mystery bus tour of natural gas drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania.

“Fracking kills, and it doesn’t just kill us,” Ono told Rolling Stone magazine after the tour. “It kills the land, nature and eventually, the whole world.”

While opposition from Ono and Lennon might be prompted in part from a “not-in-my-backyard” viewpoint—a pipeline is under consideration for a route near their Catskills home—resistance from other Hollywood stars is also strong and includes the likes of Lady Gaga, Ringo Starr, Ethan Hawke and Steven Tyler, along with the usual suspects of Alec Baldwin, Daryl Hannah, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.

Showing one’s solidarity with the celebrity set in opposition to killing the world has never been easier. The Sierra Club of New York hosted a “No Fracking Fundraising Event” featuring a jazz concert, wine tasting and art show for only $35 per person.

“Let’s have some fun,” says the invitation to the festive yet somber affair. Syracuse, N.Y. saw a “fracking fundraising CD release party,” for those still not hip enough to download their music directly to their iPad or iPhone, featuring the groovy sounds of numerous groups reflecting on the evils of fracking and fossil fuels.

There’s also Matt Damon’s latest movie, “Promised Land”, which mixes romance with propaganda against the natural gas industry. It turns out the film may be a financial flop, grossing $7.5 million at the box office since its Dec. 28, 2012 release, only half of what it cost to produce. (Disclosure: the film is funded through a company owned by the United Arab Emirates, the world’s third-largest oil exporter and a member of OPEC.)

Probably the most widely discussed and discredited protest on film against the fracking industry is the documentary “GasLand” produced by Josh Fox, which claims the process is causing water flowing from some kitchen faucets to burst into flames. The film was released in September 2010 and has grossed $49,428.

The antidote film

“I thought I was going to throw the television out the window, it took me a week to finish watching it,” said Ann McElhinney, an investigative journalist who along with her husband, Phelim McAleer, has just released the antidote film called “FrackNation”.

The documentary seeks to disprove what Fox set out to prove, principally that methane has been in the water for decades causing it to ignite and is not the result of recent fracking, and that some of those featured in Fox’s film have a vested interest in a lawsuit against the gas companies.

The filmmakers were keenly aware that their efforts would be discredited if they used financing from the natural gas industry, so they refused those checks and instead raised financing from the common folk through a website, and received 2,500 donations to make the $150,000 film.

The documentary first aired Jan. 22 on an obscure cable channel called AXS, and is available for purchase on DVD. No word yet on whether those filmmakers will be hosting a celebrity-studded party to promote their debunking documentary.

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