For the polluting natural gas drillers and corporate lobbyist hucksters that have come under his exposing lens, the investigative filmmaker Josh Fox has become a primary target. Since his 2010 documentary film Gasland opened the eyes of an uninformed nation (and Academy Awards nominators) to the horrific realities of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the fossil fuel industry has recognized the threat Fox poses to its bottom line. That’s why it set about attempting to debunk Fox and the conditions exposed in Gasland almost immediately upon the film’s release. But thankfully, Fox wasn’t deterred by the personal attacks and outrageous claims made against his work. He’s back, and in his latest anti-fracking expose, he’s honed his message for an audience of one: Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The Sky is Pink, Fox’s 18-minute short film released this week, is a concise and timely update on the battle against fracking that has been waged by countless families for years, and on the latest efforts of the gas industry to misinform the public and community leaders on the issue. But its focus is squarely on the latest front in the fight: New York State. As the Cuomo administration publically ponders a fracking future for the state, Fox uses his punchy, fact-driven piece to update the public – and one key governor – on how the debate has evolved and what real science and data on the issue actually tell us.
Fox’s striking comparisons between the gas lobby’s concerted misinformation campaigns on fracking and those of Big Tobacco’s recent attempts to deny the health risks of smoking are jaw-dropping: the same types of internal corporate documents proving the risks; the same absurd characterizations of factual evidence as circumstantial; even the same public relations firm hired to concoct the lies and control the spin.
Equally compelling in The Sky is Pink is Fox’s analysis of some journalists’ failure to thoroughly and conscientiously research and report on fracking. His explanation of the difference between true investigative journalism and “he said-she said” storytelling is as alarming as it is saddening. “They [the gas industry] come in every day and tell me the sky is pink,” says Pittsburgh City Councilman Douglas Shields in the film. Though science may confirm to us that the sky is blue, all some reporters need to frame the matter as a legitimate debate is one statement suggesting the sky could be another color, according to Fox. Frackers are quite happy to provide those statements to anyone – including journalists and public officials – who will listen.
In an especially poignant moment near the end of the The Sky is Pink, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron poses the question that has been asked by so many concerned residents of New York since the possibility of fracking in or near New York City’s watershed was taken off the table. “If [fracking] isn’t safe for the New York City watershed, why is it safe for someone else’s?”
Click here to watch Josh Fox’s The Sky is Pink.