North Jersey Parish to Host Film on Fracking

Shirley Boardman Around the Province

POMPTON LAKES, N.J. — “Gasland,” the award-winning film that looks at the controversial subject of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be shown Sept. 14 at 7 pm in the Carnevale Center of St. Mary’s Church, 10 Lenox Avenue, Pompton Lakes. Josh Fox, the film’s director, will introduce the film, explain its genesis, and take questions.

Sponsored by the Social Justice Ministry at St. Mary’s, where Frank Sevola, OFM, is pastor, the film explores the fracking process for obtaining natural gas from shale deposits up to 8,000 feet below the earth’s surface. Critics have charged that because millions of gallons of water and hundreds of chemicals, many of them toxic, are used in the fracturing process, water aquifers, which are usually about 1,000 feet deep, are in danger of contamination. In some cases, community drinking water has been shown to be flammable after the fracking process took place at nearby natural gas wells.

Fracking companies are exempt from having to disclose chemicals that are used in the process, although scientists have identified toxic elements, including carcinogens, found in fracking wastewater. Natural gas drilling is exempt from safeguards ensured by the Safe Drinking Water Act. A current House bill, if passed, would require the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the first state in the country to ban fracking. He did, however, declare a moratorium on fracking for a year in the state.

Jackie Schramm, director of the parish’s social justice ministry, says that St. Mary’s has taken a strong position against fracking: “We support a moratorium for fracking nationwide in order to complete comprehensive environmental and cumulative impact analyses, learned from other scientific studies that are in process, and accomplish necessary planning initiatives and key research efforts before drafting proposed natural gas development regulations,” she said.

Fox agreed to come because he feels it is important to share with the public information that he obtained while making the film, Schramm said. Film maker Fox became interested in hydrofracking after he was asked to lease his land in Pennsylvania for this type of natural gas acquisition. The film is the result of Fox’s cross-country tour, interviews, and investigation into hydraulic fracturing.

A donation of $10 is suggested, with all proceeds going to a non-profit group dedicated to ending fracking. The public is invited.

Further information about the event is available from Schramm at 973-835-0374 x 191. Resources about the environment and Franciscans’ approach to care for creation can be found on the Justice and Peace page of

— Shirley Boardman is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Parish.