Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 11:34am

JCC will host a screening of the Academy Award nominated film Gasland on April 14 beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The event, free and open to the public, will be held in the Student Union on JCC's Jamestown Campus. Co-sponsors of the event are JCC's sustainability committee and Earth Awareness Club, UB Green, the Niagara-Buffalo League of Women Voters, and the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County. 

The film will be followed by a panel discussion featuring representatives from Protecting Our Water Rights, Frack Action Buffalo, Allegheny Defense Project, Universal Well Services, and the Independent Oil and Gas Association, moderated by Minda Rae Amiran of the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County. 

“When New York Governor David Paterson issued an executive order banning horizontal hydraulic fracturing -- “fracking” -- until July 2011, human health and environmental safety were key concerns,” notes Becky Nystrom, a JCC biology professor and member of the college's sustainability committee.

Gasland should be of particular interest to western New York residents,” adds Ms. Nystrom. “The Marcellus Shale, a potential `gold mine' of natural gas lies under parts of western New York, and the best way to exploit it is through high volume horizontal hydrofracking.”

Gasland, written and directed by Josh Fox, takes viewers on a 24-state journey to investigate the safety and risks of fracking and the current natural gas drilling boom sweeping across America. The film includes stories of farmers, ranchers, and other residents whose water, health, and livelihoods have been affected by fracking and other forms of natural gas drilling.

Fox begins his journey near his family home in the Delaware River Basin, on the border of New York and Pennsylvania, after receiving an unexpected offer of $100,000 for the natural gas drilling rights to his property. In his quest to investigate the risks of agreeing to the deal, Fox travels the country, interviewing landowners, lawmakers, industry insiders, and environmental experts. What he uncovers is shocking: water that can be lit on fire right out of the sink, chronically ill residents of drilling areas from disparate locations in the U.S. and all with the same mysterious symptoms, huge pools of toxic waste that kill cattle and vegetation, well blowouts, and gas explosions covered up by state and federal regulatory agencies.

Winner of the 2010 Sundance Special Jury Prize, Gasland is part travelogue, part exposé, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, and part showdown. “Although the film is limited in terms of the perspectives it offers, Fox's humor and unpretentious storytelling should engage viewers and spark interest in broader debates about fracking,” notes Ms. Nystrom.

According to Variety magazine film critic Robert Koehler, “Gasland may become to the dangers of natural gas drilling what Silent Spring was to DDT.” Koehler further states that the film “has a level of research, gutsiness, and energy that should generate sensational responses everywhere it plays.”

In the post-screening discussion, various viewpoints in favor of and in opposition to this technique will be presented, followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

For more information about the film screening and discussion, contact Ms. Nystrom, 716.338.1315.


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