Grand Rapids, MI – About 75 people gathered at Grand Rapids Brewing Company Thursday evening for the screening of the Oscar®-nominated film, Gasland, an event organized by Kent County Water Conservation to help raise awareness of the concern of fracking in Michigan.
In GasLand, filmmaker Josh Fox takes a deep and broad look at the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking.’ Fracking involves a process of drilling pipes deep into the earth where water, sand and a mixture of chemicals are forced into the rock with pressure to release and extract natural gas. In the film, Fox explores political influences promoting fracking with a focus on the impact of residents living near fracking sites, including dramatic examples of people’s tap water exploding into flames.
According to D. C. based non-profit, Earthworks, “only 30-50% of the fracturing fluid is recovered, the rest of the toxic fluid is left in the ground and is not biodegradable.” There are also concerns over chemical seepage when the fracking is taking place as well as air pollution and the overal impact on public health and the environment.
“Kent County Water Conservation is working to preserve natural water resources in Kent County,” said KCWC Organizer Brian Keeley, of Grand Rapids. “We are also working on an inititive to work with other organizations in the state on this issue.”
Grand Rapids Brewing Company is among the Barfly Venture ‘family’ of local brewries including HopCat, McFadden’s and Stella’s Lounge, and a HopCat located in East Lansing. Barfly Managing Partner, Garry Boyd said, “Our employees initiated our sustainable policy. We take a look at everything we do, from having our barstools made locally, to using recycled scrap in our floors. And we want to start a conversation about clean water.”
Boyd has reached out to an oil and gas company on the issue of fracking. He said he received a reply which had “nothing negative” in it. “There are multiple sides to this conversation,” said Boyd. “We need energy too. We should be talking about this with everybody.”
Grand Rapids Brewing Company is offering a “No Fracking Way IPA,” rasing $1 per glass to be donated to Kent County Water Conservation and RespectMyPlanet.org. HopCat in East Lansing will be hosting a Clean Water fundraiser on Earthday. More water awareness beer releases are planned in the coming months by BarFly.
Kent County Water Conservation Organizer, Richard Marmion of Ada, got involved when fracking leases were sold in the Cannonsburg State Game area close to where he lives. Marmion describes Kent County Water Conservation as “a bunch of people who are teaching ourselves about fracking and what we can do about it. The more you learn, the scarier it gets.”
Boyd hopes to encourage people to, “get involved in events and go to local township meetings and build relationships with elected officials on this issue.”