This week's cover story, "Frack Attack!," explores the increasingly ambitious anti-fracking movement in Colorado, a state with plenty of oil and gas wells and plenty of people who want to shut 'em down. One sign of the movement's increasing sophistication is the production of a contentious new documentary, Dear Governor Hickenlooper, that's anything but a love letter to the gov. Former geologist Hickenlooper is, of course, a major defender of the state's gung-ho drilling activities -- and a major opponent of the fractivists' efforts to give local governments more authority over regulation of the wells in their midst.
Film has proven to be a powerful tool in the fracking wars. Josh Fox's 2010 documentary Gasland helped to launch grassroots groups nationwide concerned about fracking's impacts on health and the environment -- even though its most infamous scene, which shows a Weld County resident using a lighter to set the water from his kitchen sink on fire, has been sharply challenged by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and state officials, whose investigation concluded that the man's water supply had been contaminated by biogenic (naturally occurring) methane rather than by fracking activity.
Fox's effort helped to inspire the feature film Promised Land and FrackNation, a documentary debunking of Gasland by Irish journalist Phelim McAleer and others.
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Dear Governor Hickenlooper is in a somewhat different vein, or shale formation, or whatever. Inspired by Jon Bowermaster's Dear Governor Cuomo, it's a decidedly mixed bag of eleven short films by various filmmakers, each dealing with different aspects of the fracking debate. The melange is knit together by the presence of Shane Davis, operator of The Fractivist blog, who provides some narration and star turns of his own. There's the expected focus on whistle blowers, adverse environmental effects and towns in upheaval, but there are also segments dealing with proposed solutions involving (big surprise) renewable energy sources.
Fractivists expect to be screening the film widely in upcoming weeks -- although no dates or places have been announced since the Denver premiere last month at the Oriental Theater. Expect a counter-documentary to be in the works soon (Dear, Dear Governor Hick?). Check out the official trailer below and find more info about the project on the producers' website.