Binghamton Environmental will be holding a free showing of ‘Gasland,’ a film on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking), on Monday. It will be shown the day before Election Day, when voters will help determine the fate of hydrofracking in the Binghamton area.
On Nov. 2, voters will choose between Representative Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat against hydrofracking, and George Phillips, a Republican in support of it, for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
BE is composed of four main groups that have worked together against hydrofracking: Experimental Media Organization/Student Action Collective (EMO/SAC), Campus Climate Challenge, SUNY Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments and New York Residents Against Drilling.
According to David Frey, president of EMO/SAC, ‘Gasland’ is a film about the process of hydraulic fracturing and its effects so far on the areas where it has taken place.
The film, which is open to the community, will be shown at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Binghamton University Anderson Center, and viewers will have an opportunity to participate in a subsequent discussion with Josh Fox, the filmmaker.
‘It focuses on Colorado and Pennsylvania to show what has already happened and what the potential of future drilling is to our water supply,’ said Frey, a junior double-majoring in computer science and environmental studies.
The members of BE have been planning the event for nearly a month, working with Fox to find a time he could come to campus for the showing.
‘Just last Thursday we heard that [Fox] had an opening in his schedule for the day before Election Day,’ Frey said. ‘This is the perfect opportunity to inform people about this process so that they will be able to make an informed vote at the polls.’
According to Frey, the goal is to educate people.
‘The key to ensuring our water is clean is information,’ Frey said. ‘Once students and community members have this, they can tell their legislators to make sure we don’t see this process in Binghamton.’
Matt Potel, a BE member and a junior majoring in environmental studies, said he plans to attend the event.
‘I think that it’s a film that’s free of the political spin that comes with the hydrofracking debate. It’s about informing the people who only hear about the economic and political side of hydrofracking,’ Potel said.
According to Potel, the political and economic sides of hydrofracking are less important than the environmental.
‘The reason it is such a debate is that there is a small group of people who are going to make a lot of money off of [hydrofracking] and they have the ability to put a spin on it,’ Potel said. ‘They make it seem like it would help people, the farmers, the community, when, in fact, it has the ability to bankrupt these people if it ruins their water supply.’
According to Frey, water is the key issue ‘ not only does hydrofracking use hundreds of millions of gallons of water, but it also has a danger of chemicals ending up in the water supply, polluting it and making it impossible to drink.
‘Water is life,’ Frey said. ‘No one can disagree with that. We cannot allow this needless destruction of our water.’
However, according to Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the company working on getting the rights to drill for natural gas in the Southern Tier, hydrofracking can be good for the environment because it has the potential to dramatically reduce our reliance on foreign fuel imports and national carbon dioxide emissions.
‘Properly conducted modern hydraulic fracturing is a safe, sophisticated, highly engineered and controlled procedure,’ the company’s website reads. ‘Based on reviews of state oil and gas agencies, there is not a documented case of drinking water contamination related to the fracking of a deep shale gas well.’
According to Frey, the goal of BE is to stop the public leasing of land for hydrofracking in Broome County through education. It also plans to work on passing local legislation against the drilling process.
Charlotte Rendon, a sophomore majoring in gender studies, is an advocate of the group’s cause.
‘These oil companies don’t care about what happens afterward and that’s a lot of risk to take,’ Rendon said. ‘We need to get informed, get others informed and change who has the control.’
Students interested in the cause can attend BE’s meetings at 2 p.m. on Fridays in New University Union room 325.
‘This is the best way to get involved, and we’re open to all ideas,’ Frey said.
Seating at the Anderson Center for the showing of ‘Gasland’ will begin at 6:30 p.m. Pizza will be served at 6 p.m. for those who arrive early.