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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 8th, 2013
09:19 AM ET

Gasland filmmaker says increased fracking is a 'dire mistake', responds to criticisms

Filmmaker Josh Fox examined the natural gas industry, particularly the process known as fracking, in his first film "Gasland."

He is now following up on that Oscar-nominated 2011 documentary with a second look at the issue in “Gasland Part II.”

"This was an investigation of the government - the first film being about people lighting their water on fire - this film being about how the natural gas industry is setting our democracy on fire," Fox said in an interview with CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

“Gasland Part II” argues that industry assertions natural gas is a clean alternative energy source is misleading.

Fox traveled to a Pennsylvania town where residents can light their drinking water on fire. They claim it’s due to contamination from hydraulic fracking, the use of pressurized water to break up rock and extract gas.

Fox also spoke with Lisa Jackson, who at the time was head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jackson said the agency wanted people to come to the EPA with concerns, and said the agency was studying the potential impact of fracking on drinking water. A draft report is due out next year.

Fox said Jackson was aggressive in her fracking investigations.

However, he said President Barack Obama's 2012 State of the Union address rolled out "inflated and untrue natural gas drilling talking points."

The filmmaker also takes issue with Obama's speech last month on climate change.

In it, Obama said the United States must "strengthen our position" as a natural gas producer, which he said is producing jobs, lowering power bills, and over time would help the country transition to cleaner energy overall, including wind and solar power applications.

Obama also said the United States would help more countries transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, applying "technological know-how in countries that transition to natural gas. We’ve mobilized billions of dollars in private capital for clean energy projects around the world."

Fox said the president's speech essentially calls for "increased frack gas production all across America, exporting frack gas, and exporting the technology to frack for gas around the world. We think this is a dire, dire, dire mistake."

Fox said, "We need to go towards renewable energy vigorously and strongly, instead of addicting ourselves to yet another dirty fossil fuel."

He recently screened "Gasland Part II" in Pittsburgh. Shortly after, local resident Maury Fey wrote to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the film.

"Marcellus [S]hale drilling supports 234,000 good-paying jobs in our state. Companies producing natural gas have paid over $1.6 billion in taxes to the state since 2006," Fey wrote. "Why does the movie's director, Josh Fox, want to put these people out of work and deprive the nation of a vital resource and our state of this much-needed tax revenue?"

Fox said in response that drilling causes far more long term problems.

"[We're] handing over the state parks, the state game lands, the urban areas, the suburban areas to this toxic form of drilling. And when that boom is over, it will bust and it will bust hard. You will have a state that has contamination problems, that has run out a lot of other industries," said Fox.

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