Movie sequels gotta have bigger and better explosions than the originals, and Josh Fox, the director of "Gasland Part II," said his new film easily tops that bar.
The "flaming faucet" moment in his sequel to 2010 Academy Award nominee "Gasland," which took a critical look at shale gas development and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," features a garden hose that blazes like a flamethrower, plus other explosive scenes.
"For those audiences strictly coming for the pyrotechnics, well, they won't be disappointed," Mr. Fox said prior to the free screening of the film Thursday evening at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland.
Pittsburgh is one of 20 U.S. cities to get a preview peek at Mr. Fox's new documentary prior to its broadcast debut on HBO at 9 p.m. July 8.
"Gasland" explored the rapidly expanding shale gas development across the U.S., showing health impacts on families near well sites, hazardous air pollutants coming off condensate storage tanks at well sites, and tap water so contaminated with methane it burst into flames with the flick of a BIC.
Three years later, everything is bigger. The shale gas industry has drilled more than 6,000 wells in Pennsylvania, and public outrage has expanded right along with it, according to Mr. Fox.
"We're winning the public, winning the democracy, with our message. The industry is winning the government and the media because they can buy those things," he said. "But they can't buy the need for healthy communities. That's why a recent poll showed an overwhelming number of people in this state favor a moratorium on drilling."
He was referring to a May poll by the University of Michigan and Muhlenerg College that found that while 49 percent of Pennsylvanians approve of shale gas drilling almost two-thirds support a drilling moratorium in order to study the risks.
Mr. Fox said "Gasland Part II" revisits some of those same fractured communities -- including Dimock in Susquehanna County -- and asks why powerful oil and gas interests are allowed to pollute the environment while also "contaminating our democracy."
"This film is about the natural gas industry lighting our government on fire," he said. "In Pennsylvania, one governor after another has carried polluted water for the gas industry."
The gas drilling industry disputed many of the charges made by "Gasland," questioned the accuracy of some of its statistics and mounted a vigorous defense of its operations in the pro-industry films "Truthland" and "Fracknation," which emphasized the environmental and jobs benefits from increasing shale gas production.
But Mr. Fox said both are myths. He noted that oil and gas field workers are seven times more likely to die on the job than those in any other industry and frequent methane leaks undercut the greenhouse gas reductions produced by using gas instead of coal. He said there's an urgent need to shift to renewable energy sources.
Patrick Grenter, executive director of the Center for Coalfield Justice, one of the film screening's 20 citizen group sponsors, said Mr. Fox's two films play an important role in telling the stories of people affected by shale gas development.
"Southwestern Pennsylvania bears a huge burden from current and past energy production, both coal mining and shale gas drilling," Mr. Grenter said. "The rosy picture painted by the industry is not the reality of life on the ground in the coalfields of Washington and Greene counties."
Other HBO times for "Gasland Part II" are 4:55 a.m. July 9; 8:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. July 11; 3:15 p.m. July 14; 1:45 and 11:59 p.m. July 17; and 9:10 a.m. July 20. It also will air on HBO2 at 8 p.m. July 10 and 3:50 a.m. July 26.