The North Eastern United States is rich in natural gas. The gas is trapped in a geological formation that is known as the Marcellus shale, which runs across several states and over the border between Pennsylvania and New York.
Natural gas has been recovered from close to 10,000 wells in Pennsylvania alone. The controversial process of pumping a high-pressure mix of water, chemicals and sand into the underground rock to release the gas, is known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
Pro-fracking campaigners argue that shale gas is a 'bridge fuel" a greener alternative to coal and an essential "next step" on a road to energy independence, an argument that is strongly denied by environmental campaigners. But shale gas is a costly fuel to produce and with a drop in the global price of oil, shale gas production in the US has slowed, leaving some to question the real cost of fracking.
This film follows photojournalist Les Stone as he travels back to meet people in communities in Pennsylvania that feel marginalised and victimised by the fracking process – a process that has, they believe, had a detrimental impact on their lives, their water supplies, their health and their homes. We hear from landowners that were happy to sign up to lease their land to oil and gas companies to earn extra money from shale gas royalties, but who are now disillusioned by the process that is not delivering the financial returns that they had hoped for.
With fracking already loosing ground to those that argue that the process is harmful to the environment and that shale gas is not a bridge fuel to a greener future, the industry now faces a serious threat from the drop in the global oil price. We hear about an industry in crisis, an industry that is shedding jobs and which the pro-fracking lobby are now trying to justify by portraying it as ‘national security for the United States’ against ‘Saudi led OPEC’ that is ‘driving down the price of crude oil’.