'GasLand' Oscar nod draws industry ire

Gasland Oscar nodSVP of HBO Documentary Films, Nancy Abraham, filmmaker Josh Fox and actress and creative consultant to the film Debra Winger attend the HBO Documentary Screening of 'Gasland' at HBO Theater on June 17, 2010 in New York City. By Charles Riley, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When "GasLand," a documentary which details the environmental impact of a process called "fracking," came out, it created a public relations nightmare for the natural gas industry.

Now it's going to get worse. That's because "GasLand" is up for an Oscar.

Directed by Josh Fox, the film was nominated in the feature documentary category. Already in rotation on HBO, the movie captured the top prize for documentaries at last year's Sundance Film Festival.

There is no bigger stage than the Academy Awards, and if "GasLand" wins the Oscar, it could give Fox an opportunity to spread the anti-fracking gospel.

"I have a lot of people to thank if I win, but I have been speaking about this every day for a year," Fox said. "I think I would have some things to say on the issue."

The prospect of Fox taking the stage at the Oscars has the natural gas industry -- which insists its methods are safe -- a bit ticked off.

"While it's unfortunate there isn't an Oscar category for propaganda, this nomination is fitting, as the Oscars are aimed at praising pure entertainment among Hollywood's elite," executive director Lee Fuller of industry group Energy In Depth said in a statement.

"Without doubt, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated 'Gasland' for its work in the field of art, not science," he quipped.

Tom Amontree, executive vice president for America's Natural Gas Alliance, another industry group, didn't mince words.

"The stakes are too high to allow our energy choices to be influenced by the gross and deliberate misrepresentations by this filmmaker who knew the facts and chose to ignore them," he said.

Fracking -- or hydraulic fracturing -- has helped usher in one of the biggest energy booms in U.S. history. It's also generated fear over ground water contamination and other hazards.

For his part, Fox stands by the film, and has set up a website that picks apart industry claims.

The stakes are high.

The Marcellus Shale, one of the largest natural gas deposits in the nation, extends beneath New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.

Natural gas companies use hydraulic fracturing to tap those deposits, and the massive scale of the deposit has set off a modern day gold rush.

But extracting shale gas comes with a dark side. Producing the gas involves drilling deep underground and injecting massive amounts of chemical-laced water and sand to free the gas from a seam of shale rock.

People living near the drilling are afraid the process will contaminate their drinking water, and there have been several cases where water supplies have been ruined.

For its part, the natural gas industry has long maintained that fracturing occurs thousands of feet below the water table, far from drinking water. When wells do pass through the water table, the industry goes to great lengths to protect the water by lining the wells with concrete and steel. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,719.00 33.27 0.19%
Nasdaq 4,701.87 26.16 0.56%
S&P 500 2,052.75 4.03 0.20%
Treasuries 2.34 -0.02 -0.68%
Data as of 5:32am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Intel Corp 35.95 1.60 4.66%
Kinder Morgan Inc 39.92 -1.02 -2.49%
Bank of America Corp... 17.00 -0.06 -0.35%
Apple Inc 116.31 1.64 1.43%
Yahoo! Inc 51.25 0.67 1.32%
Data as of Nov 20

Sections

There are some of the standout vehicles on display this year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. More

Reggie Gray is one of many former FedEx Ground drivers who say the company illegally classified them as independent contractors rather than employees. More

President Obama addressed some visa reforms for high-skilled, legal immigrants -- but experts say comprehensive reform is still necessary for the U.S. to stay competitive. More

President Obama addressed some visa reforms for high-skilled, legal immigrants -- but experts say comprehensive reform is still necessary for the U.S. to stay competitive. More

Billionaires are on a buying spree in New York, with sales of multimillion dollar properties up 120% so far this year, according to CityRealty. And the prices are expected to keep climbing next year. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.