Monday, June 6, 2016


Last weekend we loaded up the car with our video gear and drove to Minisink, New York, a small town in Orange County, located about 90 minutes north of New York City. We had an appointment to interview Pramilla Malick, a local resident and one of the opponents of the natural gas build-out that is taking place across the country.

It's a personal fight for Pramilla.  She had fought valiantly against the construction of a giant natural gas compressor station in her neighborhood, but the industry, awash with money and political influence, got its way and the compressor station was built. Now it operates day and night, actively polluting the air around Pramilla's home with toxic chemicals.

The compressor station is one link in a giant network of pipelines, metering stations and other infrastructure required to move fracked gas from the hills of Pennsylvania and Ohio to export terminals on the Atlantic coast. The "gas" contains not only methane, but a toxic brew of legacy chemicals left over from the fracking process - chemicals that are known to cause cancer and other serious human health problems. Release of these chemicals takes place regularly during compressor operations.

In deciding whether to approve projects like the Minisink compressor stations, government agencies typically employ a risk/benefit model. What are the potential risks and what is the potential benefit? Yes, there are regular emissions of methane and toxic chemicals, and yes, there is always the possibility of a catastrophic explosion, but the benefit is an abundance of "clean" natural gas. (And Lord knows, we need more and more and more energy!)

In a theoretical analysis, you could argue that the benefits of pipelines and compressor stations outweigh the risks. But life is not theoretical, it's real. The people who are exposed to the chemicals are not theoretical people, they are individuals with lives to live. And most importantly, they are not the ones who will benefit. The people of Minisink will see no benefit from the gas that traverses their town, but they'll get all of the the increased risk of disease and potential catastrophe.

So who does benefit from the natural gas build-out? A small group of Wall Street investors, banks, entrepreneurs and politicians who are aggressively ignoring climate change and practicing business as usual, developing and building out new fossil fuel infrastructure that will permit the continuation of the profligate energy policies that have put the planet in peril.

Our film is called The Gas Rush. We will name names of those who are pushing the gas agenda, and focus our lens on those brave souls who are working to bring some common sense to bear on the issue before it's too late. They are our heroes. And Pramilla Malick is one of them.