Energy. Environment. Economy.

Survey: public distrusts gas industry and anti-fracking film, Gasland

A new study shows the public views both the natural gas industry and the anti-fracking film, Gasland, as among the least trustworthy sources of information when it comes to hydraulic fracturing.

According to a paper published last month in Energy Research and Social Science, people are more likely to trust information from university professors, environmental groups, newspapers, and landowner groups.

Regulatory agencies ranked fifth in trustworthiness among the eight possible choices. They were followed by cooperative extensions and the natural gas industry.

Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox.

Linh Do via Flickr

Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox. The Oscar-nominated film was ranked by survey respondents as the least trustworthy source of information on fracking.

The 2010 film, Gasland, came in last place.

Although newspapers were ranked as the number one source of information, they came in third for trustworthiness– behind professors and environmental groups.

The results come from telephone and mail surveys conducted during the summer of 2012 of people who live in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region. The paper was a collaboration among researchers from Sam Houston State University in Texas, Penn State University, and Texas A&M.

“There’s so much information in the media from so many different stakeholders,” says lead author Gene Theodori of Sam Houston State. “The general population is just trying to sort through all this information.”

Here’s how survey respondents ranked different sources of information.

Where people get information:

1. newspapers

2. natural gas industry

3. conservation/environmental groups

4. landowner groups/coalitions

5. regulatory agencies

6. cooperative extension

7. university professors

8. Gasland (film by Josh Fox)


Trust in sources of information:

1. university professors

2. conservation/environmental groups

3. newspapers

4. landowner groups/coalitions

5. regulatory agencies

6. cooperative extension

7. natural gas industry

8. Gasland



  • nathansooy

    What people say they are influenced by is not the same as what they are really influenced by. The main example of that is TV Ads. People do not like to admit that they are influenced by them but the world of results confirms that they are. The truth of the matter is that the anti-fracking impulse would not have anywhere near its present reach with Josh Fox’s Gasland effort. Gasland was the “TV Ad” that first brought some of those environmental groups and university professors that people say they respect to public attention. I know that my work with environmental group, Clean Water Action, was positively impacted by the exposure of these issues though Gasland. We were literally able to recruit hundreds of volunteers from the population of screenings of the film, Gasland.

  • VAppalachia1

    Great news for university professors and the print media! We’ll get to see how high a price the gas industry is willing to pay to purchase them.

    I smell a new economic boom. Better get some reporters covering it.

    • Celia Janosik

      I am betting there are people out there with integrity. They do not work for the oil & gas industry.

      • Paul Rowe

        As opposed to the integrity of, say, politicians, filmmakers, telecoms, government bureaucrats, police, and fast food workers.

  • Victoria Switzer

    I often think of a line from A Few Good Men….”you can’t handle the truth”. Given my choice I would love to believe the glossy ads and the smiling blonde on the tv over the harsh, hard hitting film Gasland.

    • HopeForpeaceNow

      My friend Victoria … As a victim shown in Gasland 2, I bet Industry’s campaign to call the film and the victims liars is personal for you.

      I’m sorry you have to tread through this kind of hooey.

  • Tom Coppers

    Possible Fracking North Carolina……Once
    gas is sold overseas and almost
    all the ground water in North Carolina is poisoned, then the residents
    will be dependent on buying water at any price forever to stay alive. Is
    selling drinkable water the hidden agenda? If you live for another 30
    years, you will see the wasteland NC will become. The toxic soup
    springing up from under our feet could happen with any step we take. The
    Aquifers can flow together for hundreds or thousands of miles. It would
    be too late then. North Carolina is not new to allowing industry to
    destroy former clean natural resources. The COASTAL FISHING INDUSTRY WAS
    KILLED after NC permitted 3800 massive open-pit hog waste lagoons
    contaminating the state’s drinking water, polluting its air and streams
    and causing open sores and deformed fish and crabs. The runoff from 19
    million tons of hog waste produced annually in Eastern North Carolina
    from the hog factories has polluted Albemarle Sound, the largest
    freshwater sound in the country, and adjacent
    Pamlico Sound, the largest enclosed saltwater sound. Would you eat
    seafood with open sores and deformations? Also causing Red Tide and
    Pfiesteria. So, they have polluted the large sounds on the coast for
    decades and now they want to poison the Aquifers in North Carolina and
    water in nearby states that share the same ground water? This can
    be stopped. Please call your representatives. The internet can show you
    how many vast communities have poisoned water from Fracking. It’s
    documented. Now they have no clean water. So again, what price will they be charging citizens for clean water to stay alive?

  • paulroden

    I find that very interesting. There are so many other articles, books, films and slide presentations. “The Promised Land” with Matt Damon, “The Split Estate”, “The Triple Divide” for example for movies and films. For books there is Walter Brasch’s “Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting With Disaster” . The “Drilling Down” Series in the New York Times. Why is it that the MSM doesn’t really cover this? And now, all of sudden, a study is done trying to discredit “Gasland I and II?” The MSM is not fulfilling it’s responsibility to tell the truth and exposing the lies of the gas industry. Fracking is too dangerous, too expensive and totally unnecessary for our energy needs. As with any issue or movement, first they discredit you and say you are crazy, then they attack you and throw you in prison and then you win, just like Mahatma Gandhi once said.

    • Paul Rowe

      Without hydraulic fracturing, your energy costs and global warming impact will both explode.

      These doomsday scenarios are about as credible as the right wing survivalists’. Why don’t you two sides get together?

  • Martin Smith

    Wasn’t a big problem with Drilling for natural gas till GE gave Obama millions to run so that GE could sell millions of windmills which produce nothing and kills millions of birds a year. We been Fracking for over 60 years we need to get back to calling it drill for natural gas then people will feel so safe.. I think we should not use natural gas for one year and see prices triple and see people calling for renew Gas drilling

    • Celia Janosik

      Many things, including cats, kill birds, how about hunters DDT, pesticides, herbicides, storms. You lovers of natural gas twist words. When the water is very expensive and many people will not be able to afford it, we will have genocide. Water should NOT be owned by anybody. Water is life. Slick water hydraulic fracturing (frackig) started less than 10 yrs ago. What started 60 yrs ago was only vertical drilling with little water and few chemicals used, a far cry from the highly polluting and dangerous activity today. Gas drilling is heavy industrial activity and does not belong in farmers fields, residences or anywhere else someone may get blown up Renewable energy NOW. Thanks Josh Fox for Gasland & Gasland II, you have opened up many eyes and minds and I hope you continue the good work. My grandchildren and children everywhere need you.

      • Brandon

        Martin Smith – This may come as new to you but GE does in fact have an Oil and Gas sector, so your reply makes you sound pretty stupid.

        Celia Janosik – You are wrong in every aspect of fracking. Companies have been fracturing since oil wells were first drilled back in the 1860′s but it was done with nitroglycerin or dynamite. Hydraulic fracturing started in 1947 when tests were ran with acid and water. In 1952 hydraulic fracturing with the acid/water mixture started to include an additive proppant. A proppant essentially expands to hold the fractures open after the fracking is done. I believe what you are describing is the large multi-stage fracking operations, but that is exactly what is sounds like. Multiple fractures at different points in the well. It is the same thing that has been happening since the 50′s, the difference is they have recently found that it works extremely well in shale formations and that is what the recent oil activity has been about. Also drilling doesn’t cause groundwater and aquifers to become polluted. Water and Oil happen at different places in the ground. Water is usually found a couple hundred feet underground, while the average oil well is 6 thousand feet underground.

        Renewable energy is not a solution. Solar panels only work if it isn’t cloudy, windmills only work between 15 and 40 mph, and hydroelectric destroys the ecosystem of rivers. None of these are consistent enough to be a main addition to the grid. We will always need the gas, the coal, and nuclear energy as a reliable backbone for the grid.

        • Celia Janosik

          Slick water hydraulic fracturing is very recent and it does contaminate water. One drills through the aquifers and you bring up heavy metals, radioactive material etc. as drill cuttings. The casings fail 5% to 6% right off the bat and 50% of wells will fail in 30 yrs. You are WRONG. Endocrine disruption, VOC’s NOx. Leukemia. There are many aspects of this industry that is highly dangerous example explosions. You cannot dink gas.

          • Paul Rowe

            Wow. You have any source to back up that incredible claim about casing failure rates???

        • HopeForpeaceNow

          “Companies have been fracturing since oil wells were first drilled back in the 1860′s”
          Incorrect. The horizontal unconventional fracking they do today has only been around about 20 years.
          Stop misleading people, please.

          ” the difference is they have recently found that it works extremely well in shale formations”
          Also incorrect. The difference is they can now drill horizontally and much greater distances.

          “Also drilling doesn’t cause groundwater and aquifers to become polluted.”
          Very wrong. You erred and used the word “drilling”. Hundreds of cases have been reported and proven:

          “More than 100 cases of pollution were confirmed over the past five years.”

    • HopeForpeaceNow

      THe kind of fracking they do today -unconventional horizontal has only been in use about 20 years. You do know that, right?

  • Matt

    I would also like to say that reporters tried to contact the homeowners “effected” in Gasland to test their water and publish accurate results. Not a single resident allowed professionals to test there water for toxicity and methane levels. Homes ion the area of the film are effected by methane intrusion on water wells before fracturing had even started. Marcellus wells are typically 8-12 thousand feet in depth. As Brandon stated, water wells and ground water are around 200 feet in depth (which are also protecteds by regulations that make you 100% seal them from the well) methane mayy be able to migrate but not thousands of feet. Josh Fox just played the intimidation card to make money. Don’t let what some non-experts say scare you, use facts and research from actual experts.

    • Celia Janosik

      One DRILLS THRU the water table. Casings FAIL. I do not trust the industry that rules the world. Energy. Utilities do not want solar because they would not make money off it. Renewable energy now for our children’s future.

      • HopeForpeaceNow

        Imagine selling out future generations for profit now. Who could have conceived of such evil? $$

      • Paul Rowe

        Actually, it’s more often the cement job that fails. You might want to check YouTube for some stuff from professors and learn more about the actual issues.

        Fortunately the industry is not waiting on regulators to improve processes. Almost every concern you might come up with, you will find industry way ahead.

    • HopeForpeaceNow

      I just spent 5 weeks in Dimock, you are sadly mistaken. Every victim I spoke to has had the water tested multiple times with contamination as results and the original DEP testing found chemicals, that’s why Cabot signed the consent order (they would not have if there was no evidence.)

      Cabot had predrill tests done on Carter road. All had no methane before drilling.

      Where do you get your info, from EID?

      Here’s Ray’s water 3 weeks ago – I took this film. Duke was out a few days later also testing.

      Also, it’s not the fracking always, often it’s just the drilling that moved the methane underground.

  • crystalpoint

    As long as we have a news media that promotes negative information on Gas and Oil development, around the Globe, they will never write a positive story about the gas and oil industry, that just plain and simple.
    I don’t know how to fix this problem, but I am working on it!!
    Ray P. Smith, Sr.

    • Celia Janosik

      There are no good reasons for using oil & gas as heating or transportation fuel except for very heavy equipment. We are wasting it. Everything on earth is finite except stupidity and the love of money.

      • HopeForpeaceNow

        “Everything on earth is finite except stupidity and the love of money.”

        Wow … you nailed it ..

    • HopeForpeaceNow

      Feel free to contact me, I can help. In fact, there are hundreds of articles everyday across the nation that cover all of the upsides and nearly none of the downside of hydro-fracking. Here’s one I saw in the NYT:
      Scouring the World for Shale-Based Energy

      I see 5 sentences on the downside there .. you? In fact, I rarely see MSN cover the dangers of fracking well or loudly. Conservative media spins only to the upside and denies any downside, going so far as to demonize those who speak of the downsides.

  • HopeForpeaceNow

    I can;t imagine any more bad idea for the future than drilling 100K
    holes in the ground, filling them with chemicals, lining them with metal
    and cement and believing they will never fail or leak.

    In 70
    years when the 60% casing failure rate has happened and water is
    permanently ruined, they will hate us more than we can imagine.

    BTW Gasland was not a fraud – that is a lie Industry paid to tell widely for fear people would find out the truth. Massive smear campaign.

    • Paul Rowe

      Apparently not familiar with regulations regarding shut in, nor the bonds and trust funds that ensure wells will be properly shut.

      So what’s going to be the effect of going back to coal and all oil? Oh yeah, that will only crush the poor and all the rich Libs will be OK.

  • crystalpoint

    Perhaps all you nay Sayers who are opposed to Marcellus shale development want to review on the Webb a movie, named I.e. “TRUTHLAND”! You may all be shocked at the mistruths and outright lies that Josh Fox told in producing , his move, i.e. “Gasland? How any person, working in the regulatory area of gas and oil development, could believe Josh’s story, boggles my mind?
    And here we are Today, i.e. the EPA and congress and State Regulators believing this fictional movie, and enforcing laws against the gas and oil industry, based upon false science!
    Ray. P. Smith, Sr.

  • Karen Orlando

    Consider that numbers one two and three for trusted sources have participated in an epic campaign of total misinformation on the Rockaway lateral Pipeline Project, National Grid’s BQI, the Northeast Connector and an LNG import project called Port Ambrose that they are calling an export project.

  • Paul Rowe

    Hi Ms. Cusik,

    Great story. We hope State Impact will cover the RR commissioner election and the campaign of former UT professor Mark Miller. At the earthquake forums, we saw exactly the effect you are describing. When the public questions were opened, a bunch of them were questions of fact directed to Dr. Miller instead of political questions for the debaters.

    Find the Libertarian candidate site, and you will find a long string of postings by Mark Miller on the issues before Texas today, the actual science, and effective public policy responses.

    I’ll add as a final note that those vehemently opposed to all oil & gas don’t seem to be the ones involved in incidents. We find all around the state that what the People want is to keep their economy and lives intact, but have individual situations addressed. How many times have I heard a personal story prefaced by “now we don’t want to shut it all down, but …”

    When the politicians have time left from pursuing their careers to actually attend to their duties as office holders, they reflexively stonewall issues — even more so than industry groups (who are of course far more knowledgeable). This denies the public the specific protection to which it is entitled with regard to individual occurrences.

    That could all end if citizens quit wasting their votes.

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