But a new one, the oscar-nominated "Gasland", had me thinking that there might be something to its claims. It shows video of people holding a match to water coming out of their faucet - and the water bursts into flames. The film blamed "fracking", a process used to extract natural gas that supposedly leaks chemicals into water.
Surely if water catches fire, something is wrong. But as I write in my syndicated column this week, it turns out that the film misleads:
The best fire scene in the movie was shot in Colorado, where the filmmaker is in the kitchen of a man who lights his faucet. But Colorado investigators went to that man's house, checked out his well and found that fracking had nothing to do with his water catching fire. His well-digger had drilled into a naturally occurring methane pocket.
"There are lots of naturally causing effects that occur," says Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation, a think tank in Pennsylvania - where much of the film was shot. "It's really no surprise. We find that 40 percent of the wells in Pennsylvania have some sort of naturally occurring methane gas and other types of things." ...
Filmmaker Josh Fox concedes that the states concluded that the fire wasn't caused by fracking, but he says the government regulators collude with industry , or don't use good science...
Frankly, I'm skeptical of all of them: lefty moviemakers who smear companies, companies with economic interests at stake and the regulators, who are often cozy with industry and lack essential knowledge. The surest environmental protectors are property rights - and courts that assign liability to polluters.
Read the rest of the column to hear why "fracking" is a wonderful thing.