May 17, 2013 Updated: May 17, 2013 at 9:05 am
It's an understatement to say Josh Fox is anti-fracking.
His 2010 Oscar-nominated movie "Gasland" first introduced the powerful, shocking image of people who lived near hydraulic fracturing - also called fracking - lighting their tap water on fire. He traveled the country, interviewing scores of folks who talked about the frightening health problems that occurred while living near these areas.
He's back with "Gasland Part II," which premiered last month at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. There will be a free local screening of the film Thursday at the Gallogly Events Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Fox will be there and will facilitate a question-and-answer session afterward. The film will premiere on HBO on July 8.
"It's separate from the first movie, which is about water and health problems," he said. "This is the health of our democracy. The real revelation when making the film is we have a national crisis about health and pollution, and our government has not responded."
Fracking, which has been furiously debated in the Springs, is a way to extract natural gas by deep natural gas well drilling. Chemicals used in fracking have caused water to flame, Fox said. On his website, gaslandthemovie.com, he writes that 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used in fracking and that scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
That film ensured Fox wouldn't be getting a Christmas card from the oil and gas companies anytime soon.
Proponents of fracking say it's a clean, safe process and has freed up large amounts of oil and gas that can help the country attain energy independence.
The focus of the second film is the government's involvement in fracking.
"In Colorado, we have Governor ?Frackenlooper' saying he's going to drink fracking liquids," Fox said. "He's a spokesperson for oil and gas companies in his spare time. The collision of oil and gas interests and heads of state are occurring on an unprecedented level."
"Gasland" stayed within the bounds of our country. In part two, Fox visits Africa, Europe and Australia and other locations to explore the wide-ranging impact of fracking. Thirty-two countries have taken up the process, he said.
Fox is as current as it gets regarding the fracking movement throughout the country, including Colorado, and feels a sense of optimism about the direction the battle is headed. A ban-fracking movement is gaining steam in Colorado, he said, with cities such as Longmont and Fort Collins adopting the ban and Colorado Springs putting a moratorium on it.
"In an oil and gas state like Colorado, people are saying no, we don't want this," Fox said. "This is a tipping state, and this is an incredibly important issue and battleground. Gov. (John) Hickenlooper and President (Barack) Obama need to pay attention to their base that is rebelling. We're talking about fracking, and it's cutting across hearts and minds.
"People don't want to be invaded by corporations."
Jennifer Mulson can be reached at 636-0270.
"GASLAND PART II"
When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday
Where: Gallogly Events Center, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, 1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Tickets: Free; gaslandthemovie.com, http:/tinyurl.com/Gasland2 on Facebook