WMEAC Examines Fracking: “Gasland” Showing TONIGHT, March 23, 7-9pm

Tonight, join WMEAC as we examine an emerging threat to Michigan water resources from recent innovations in natural gas exploration with its screening of the award-winning documentary GASLAND. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion.

Location: Celebration Cinema North, 2121 Celebration Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI

Tickets are only $5 ($3 for WMEAC members), available at the door or in advance at the WMEAC office. Contact Daniel Schoonmaker at 616.451.3051 x28 or for more information.

Josh Fox’s GASLAND was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary and won top prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.  GASLAND details how the largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history is sweeping across the United States thanks to fracking, unlocking a Saudi Arabia of natural gas beneath American soil at a potentially devastating environmental cost.

View Gasland’s IMDB review here, or the trailer for tonight’s showing below:

0 replies
  1. Theresa
    Theresa says:

    I attended your screening of Gasland on 3-23 at Celebration Cinema North. The documentary was very informative and frightening to say the least. I expected to hear panel members discussing the detrimental environmental impact of fracking and how we in Michigan did not want that kind of activity going on in our backyards, but what I heard instead from all three of them was anything but. They all made excuses for the natural gas industry, and went as far as blaming us, the consumers, for “demanding” natural gas. Give me a break! I would take solar, wind, geothermal and/or hydroelectric any day if it was offered to me at a reasonable price. We, the consumers, have been DEMANDING clean, renewable and alternative energy sources for decades, but the big fossil fuel industries continue to ignore us. They are going to get every last drop of oil, gas and coal out of the ground because they are greedy SOB’s and they don’t give a damn about who they hurt in the process. I am saddened and angered that WMEAC feels they have to compromise Michigan’s people and environment by sucking up to big oil and gas. What does WMEAC get in return? Are you funded by these thugs? I had planned on donating money to WMEAC after watching the movie. That is, until I heard from the panel. Now there is no way I would ever support you. And judging by the questions raised by the audience, I doubt many of them will be supporting your organization either. I am so disgusted.

    • Dan
      Dan says:

      Did we go to two different events?

      “Gasland” shows some scary stuff. I’m so thankful that WMEAC brought in experts to talk about how things are different in Michigan than the states in the film – otherwise, I would have had nightmares last night!

      I heard WMEAC, Clean Water Action, the state official and the geology professor all agree that Michigan has tougher regulations than the states portrayed in the documentary. And they all pushed for more to be done.

      They gave specific examples of where Michigan’s regulations could be tightened and gave examples of how many of the most scary things in the film already have been dealt with in Michigan.

      Here’s what I learned:

      – There are not open pits of fracking waste water in Michigan that can leak into streams or groundwater. All waste water has to be contained in closed steel containers, then it’s disposed of into deep injection wells that are monitored by EPA and DEQ. Unlike in Pennsylvania, no fracking water goes to water treatment plants that then release it into rivers and streams.
      – Concrete well casings are stronger and have to go deeper in Michigan to protect ground water from the fracking fluid and natural gas that seeped into water wells in the communities in the film. This is the problem that led to the water that could be lit on fire.
      – Fracking wells cannot be right next to each other in Michigan, as was shown out west and in Fort Worth. DEQ is pushing regulations to keep them to 1 well per 640 acres.
      – DEQ is monitoring water use for fracking as part of its permit process. WMEAC and Clean Water Action are pushing for more to be done.
      – DEQ now has access to what chemicals are used in fracking on hazardous materials information sheets that the companies are required under federal law to keep on each site in the event of an emergency. WMEAC and Clean Water Action are asking for better disclosure so we know the exact recipe and every chemical used.
      – Michigan doesn’t allow the condensation tanks that we saw in other states that released hazardous fumes near people’s homes in those other states.

  2. Nicholas Occhipinti
    Nicholas Occhipinti says:

    @theresa: Since it sounds like we’re in agreement on the need to protect Michigan from the dirty and dangerous practices of fracking – any way we can harness that energy into some productive advocacy? Give me a call if you’re interested in talking about this some more. Nick Occhipinti 451-3051 x23 (WMEAC Policy and Activism Director).

  3. Daniel Schoonmaker
    Daniel Schoonmaker says:

    Hi Theresa,

    The discussion with panelists was an opportunity for you to discuss with regulators and scientists what is happening in Michigan. I think we sent them a strong message that West Michigan about strongly West Michigan feels about these issues. I can understand how you would be disappointed that there wasn’t a stronger call to action from the panel, but I think you should be excited about the passionate response from your fellow audience members. We’re going to need that to keep Michigan moving forward toward a cleaner energy future and to ensure that the types of stories we saw in GASLAND don’t ever happen locally.

    As for your assertion that WMEAC is somehow in cahoots with oil and gas…we’re somewhat dumbfounded. We asked you to fill out a postcard requesting the state strengthen environmental regulations. I’m guessing you didn’t read it? We were joined by three other environmental organizations at the screening aligned with this effort. I also have to assume you didn’t read any of the stories on this blog, any comments we’ve made in the media or visit our web site. The West Michigan Environmental Action Council for 43 years has been the region’s preeminent voice on behalf of the environment. Our record is such that the thought of our being aligned with the oil and gas industry is ludicrous (although, admittedly, neither of us like coal very much).

    If you care about these issues locally, you should be involved in WMEAC, or at least aware of our work. Misdirecting your passion on this issue against WMEAC is counterproductive and silly. I’d be happy to discuss this further with you, as would Nick, who has commented above.

    Also, as an FYI, the Saugatuck Center for the Arts will be showing the film next month and will also have Hal Fitch, the state spokesman who irritated you so, on their panel, joined by a member of our staff. I’d encourage you to attend and see if we can’t change your mind about WMEAC.

    Daniel Schoonmaker

    • Theresa
      Theresa says:

      I did not stop by your office. There were plenty in the audience who felt the same as I did, but you and others at WMEAC just aren’t listening to our message. NO FRACKING!! There is no such thing as “safe” fracking not even when it’s “regulated” fracking. The only way we can make sure that what is happening in other states does not happen in Michigan is to make it illegal and call for a statewide ban, as LuAnne has rightly suggested. And yes, I looked at your postcard and laughed. Do you really believe that Snyder is going to glance at a few postcards and think “gee, maybe we’ll listen to the people for a change and regulate the natural gas industry.” I think not. His only intention is to fatten their wallets, while ours (the average working persons, the unemployed, seniors, the poor) get smaller and smaller every day. I will support an organization that is calling for a total ban on fracking, but since WMEAC is not calling for this, I will not be supporting you.

  4. LuAnne Kozma
    LuAnne Kozma says:

    Theresa, and all others who are horrified about the specter of the methane mining (“natural gas”) industry taking hold in Michigan: Please join a new group that has formed, Don’t Frack Michigan, in calling for a statewide ban of fracking. ( We started up this January and we are based in Petoskey and intend to have a statewide movement. I’m an active board member and live in Novi. We are looking for groups and individuals around the state to join us in a petition drive. Our goal is to ban horizontal hydrofracking in Michigan.

    I’m sorry we could not have a representative at this showing of Gasland.

    WMEAC, we will call you about joining our call to ban fracking. Other groups have signed on to our letter to the governor and legislature.

    We already know that the fracking industry is not safe, and we simply cannot tolerate “better” regulations as the answer to an unforgiving, profit-driven industry.

    LuAnne Kozma
    Don’t Frack Michigan

    • Theresa
      Theresa says:


      Thank you for speaking up here. I, too, challenge WMEAC to join your call to ban fracking. Unfortunately, even though they will insist otherwise, I think they have too much at stake to do so. I may be wrong, but why else would they claim that all that is needed is simply better regulations? I would like nothing better than for WMEAC to prove me wrong.


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