Who’s Fracking Whom?

(c) Josh Fox, International Wow Company

The documentary “Gasland” didn’t win an Academy Award, but it certainly deserves a Palme d’Or for changing the nation’s conversation about natural gas.

Before “Gasland,” opposition to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) was downright inert. Today, the debate is as incendiary as the fiery faucet the movie made famous.

Watch the trailer here, if you’re new to the issue. (Or skip to 2:15, if you just want to see how the guy makes out.) 

The image above stuck with me, as it does most people. But gas proponents suggest the blazing spigot was caused by naturally occurring methane, not by fracking as the movie implies. 

So whom should I believe: the director Josh Fox (who is working on “Gasland 2”); the natural gas industry (which has released its own cliché-ridden video); the government; environmental groups; domestic energy lobbyists; CNN; or maybe FOX News? 

Frankly, I can’t tell who’s fracking whom, because each of these sources has a reason to lie, deceive or—at the very least—stretch the truth.

Alas, the one (seemingly) objective resource I can find—this November 2011 Scientific American article—is locked up behind a pay wall. (C’mon SA; it’s the 21st century.)

Most people don’t want to work that hard to find “the truth,” so they’re more likely to side with the source that is most aligned with their other values and personal beliefs. 

Communicators beware: The mediator has become the message.