The Truth About Gasland
Matthew is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
The organization I work for recently co-sponsored a local showing of the movie Truthland which is a direct rebuttal to the HBO movie “Gasland.” I’ve now seen both of the films and encourage investors in the industry to do the same. In Truthland we follow a woman from a rural Pennsylvania farm as she sets out to discover the truth about gas drilling after becoming concerned about her own farm after having watched Gasland.
One of her biggest concerns was in if it were possible for fracking fluids to come back up and harm the water that her family and livestock drank. In an interview with John Hanger who is the former secretary of Pennsylvania DEP (who also appeared in Gasland), he said, “We’ve never had one case of (hydraulic fracturing) fluid going down the gas well and coming back up and contaminating someone’s water well.” Further on in the movie there is a demonstration on just how well constructed the shell casings are and Scott Roberts who was the former deputy secretary for the Pennsylvania DEP, had this to say, “Multiple layers of protection: cement, steel, cement, steel, cement. Production tubing on the inside. … You can see nothing’s going to get in or out of this pipe.” The bottom line conclusion being drawn is that nothing is getting out of those wells and even if it did, the chemicals are fairly common and can be found online at FracFocus.
In the move Gasland one of the more powerful scenes is when they lit tap water on fire and blamed this on fracking. This is of course a grave concern for anyone to know that their drinking water could be filled with explosive contaminants. In an interview with Joseph Martin who is a professor of engineering at Drexel University he said that, “There’s almost no likelihood or possibility that methane could migrate laterally from a natural gas well.” He further went on to make the connection that nobody is motivated to have the gas leave the pipe and have it escape into the environment as companies get paid by marketing the gas. So what of the exploding water? The makers of Truthland were able to replicate it by capturing methane that naturally bubbled up from a stream on their property. They went on to interview homeowners from across the US who’d experience similar flaming faucets, and in each case it was a natural occurrence where methane was seeping into the groundwater because of where the water well was drilled. In another great quote, this time from Gary Hanson who is the Director of the Red River Watershed Management Institute, he said that, “It’s literally impossible to (hydraulically fracture) into a groundwater zone.”
The movie goes on to uncover more facts in an effort to debunk Gasland, but whose side of the story are they telling? One thing this movie makes clear is that while no one who appeared in the movie were paid for their contributions, the industry did fund making the movie. Although, can you blame them? If your company was attacked and what was being said wasn’t true, I’m sure you’d fight back.
Depending on which side you choose to believe, the one undeniable fact is that drilling is creating jobs. In the movie they interview two workers from US Steel (NYSE: X) who said that they were laid off but because of the natural gas boom they got their jobs back. According to the Truthland website in 2010, the development of shale gas supported 600,000 jobs and that figured is expected to surpass 870,000 in 2015. Further they state that oil and natural gas development created nearly one out of every 10 new jobs in the US last year.
I’ve looked at the trickledown effect and the companies that are positioning themselves to grow and it cannot be understated that amount of new jobs and related economic activity that are being generated. According to EQT (NYSE: EQT) the industry needs to invest $20 billion dollars in infrastructure spending over the next decade to meet the growth demands of the Marcellus. While midstream giant Enterprise Products (NYSE: EPD) is investing $8 billion dollars throughout their nationwide system over the next two years. Going further out the value chain, Shell’s (NYSE: RDS-A) planned cracker plant in PA has the potential to create 20,000 jobs with most of them being induced jobs which are those created to support the direct and indirect jobs.
While Gasland created a lot of interesting talking points, the truth is that we need to develop our natural gas resources responsibly. We need the energy and the jobs to get our economy back on its feet. While I’ve been quite vocal as my displeasure on how Chesapeake (NYSE: CHK) CEO Aubrey McClendon has seemingly only been focused on enriching himself we need the leadership of a man like him to make sure we get this right. As the number two natural gas driller in the country we need to see them continue to be an innovative leader in taking our country forward to responsibly drill in order to create desperately needed jobs.
Truth is we need the industry so it’s good to see the industry is stepping up and getting the real truth out there. Lies and rumors do make for an entertaining movie, but creating division in a country that’s already painfully divided isn’t doing anyone any good. The truth is out there, but Gasland is filled with more hot air than truth.
latimerburned owns shares of Enterprise Products Partners L.P. The Motley Fool has the following options: long JAN 2013 $16.00 calls on Chesapeake Energy, long JAN 2013 $25.00 calls on Chesapeake Energy, long JAN 2014 $20.00 calls on Chesapeake Energy, and long JAN 2014 $30.00 calls on Chesapeake Energy. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Enterprise Products Partners L.P.. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.