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Green Planet Films

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Follow producer Mira Dutschke and director Jeffrey Barbee around the world as they uncover the facts about this controversial business, and why it affects us all. Secret fracking operations have been conducted in Africa’s most protected National Parks. The team uncovers these operations and brings hard evidence to light that startles policy makers. This is the international underbelly of the energy business, but there is hope.

Watch the first ten minutes of the film:

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The High Cost of Cheap Gas Documentary Poster

Produced by Mira Dutschke, Directed By Jeffrey Barbee. Associate Producer: Charles Moore. With: Kendra Lauren Gros, Ashleigh Hamilton-Moore, Kiko Herrera and many others.

Download our Press Release

The struggle over natural gas development rages on in countries around the world…

…but in Botswana natural gas companies quietly and without public input began drilling in sensitive wilderness areas. Until now only a few industry press releases have been made public, this is the first journalistic investigation to cover this breaking story.

The High Cost of Cheap Gas is profiled on national TV program 50/50.

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A 50/50 interview with the director Jeff Barbee.

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LINK: Maps of gas prospecting licenses in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

DOWNLOAD: The proof of fracking in Botswana used for this report. -Please credit High Cost of Cheap Gas if used.

About the filmmakers

Jeffrey Barbee works for Global Post, and the UK Guardian. His work appears in the New York Times, the BBC, NOS Tv Holland, Smithsonian Magazine, RTL News, PBS, CBS, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Vanity Fair.

Mira Dutschke has a masters degree in Human Rights Law and 10 years international research experience. Currently she is producing media investigating human rights and environmental issues.

Barbee’s and Dutschke’s last film, Creating a Climate for Change won best environmental film at the Colorado Film Festival in 2012.

Quotes from the film:

Randy Udall

Randy Udall

Energy Consultant, Colorado, U.S.A

“The gas industry loves to talk about clean burning natural gas. Well, it’s clean when it gets to you but there is a trail of devastation that the gas industry leaves all the way back to the gas well. “

Tweet Blancett

Tweety Blancett

Landowner: 200 wells on property, New Mexico, USA

“The well-heads are leaking, the pits have overflowed, they’re un-lined, and they seep into the water sources and into the springs. That was the main thing that caused us to quit ranching – it’s because our water’s contaminated”.

Jumanda Gakelebone

Jumanda Gakelebonel

Community Activist, Botswana

“Look at our country – it is still a developing country. If you bring gas companies like this they have destroyed and did bad things in the US what about Botswana? What will happen here? It’s going to be a mess.”

Steve Boden

Steve Boden

Unconventional Gas Development Manager
Sasol, Johannesburg, South Africa

“The really nice thing that I think about CBM is that, there’s lots of opportunities for sustainable development and minimal impact and it’s a clean energy resource. So, I mean, what more do want?” mean it’s great, so…?

Detlev Helmig

Detlev Helmig

Associate Professor
Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research University of Colorado

“We have seen in our measurements that is that very likely this region will see significant increases in atmospheric contaminate levels. Every oil and gas development region that we have sampled those studies overwhelmingly show that the oil and gas just inherently is tied to very significant emissions of hydrocarbons.

Jonathan Deal

Jonathan Deal

Treasure Karoo Action Group

“The jobs are completely unsustainable. They are for specialized people and the economics of shale gas is showing that the sustainability and depletion rate of the well is that it’s a very short-term thing and a short-term benefit.”

Cormac Cullinan

Cormac Cullinan

Cullinan and Associates

“There is no question that environmental degradation hurts the poorest of the poor much more than it hurts anybody else. When developments like fracking are proposed the response that you get is that it creates jobs but frankly it depends what kind of jobs. There is no benefit in my view in creating jobs, which harm society” Green Planet Films

21 thoughts on “The High Cost Of Cheap Gas – Documentary Film

  1. David Goodfellow says:

    The man who runs the elephant lodge that you interview in the film (seen in the preview) has, of course, a vested interest in preserving the wilderness of this area and keeping the elephants coming to his lodge for the tourists. So he is protecting his own turf, not providing objective evidence. If African countries are to move beyond economies based on catering to the whims of wealthy westerners who want a quick hit of nature before returning to their prosperous, western lives, then they need the raw materials that can drive their industries and provide better jobs so Africa can catch up with the western world, not remain it’s exotic toy.

    • Jeffrey Barbee says:

      Hi David,

      Botswana’s tourism brings in 400 millions dollars in sustainable revenue every year. If you are suggesting that replacing sustainable livelihoods with gas drilling that benefits a few vested interests and some massive international companies will make it less of an exotic toy I am afraid you are selling the people of Africa far too cheaply. This is not a story of keeping positive development away from people, but of making sure these developments are done with consultative best practice and are financially (and environmentally) sustainable.

      Far from your suggestion that gas development would “drive their industries and provide better jobs so Africa can catch up with the western world” developments like this have almost never made local people affected by the drilling healthier, wealthier or better off in the long term.

      In a country with the highest solar index in the world and a well-educated population, perhaps the discussion should center around the knowledge economy, the future of solar, and how to place Africa’s best interests ahead of international short-term corporate greed.

      Jeffrey Barbee

      • Elaine says:

        Very well put Jeffrey Barbee. You make total sense with some excellent and cogent points. The Botswana Government has sold out. It is a disgrace after years of policy that has encouraged soft (very expensive) tourism which has indeed benefited the local people, and was so environmentally sensitive that only demountable game camps can be built so as to leave no footprint on the environment.

  2. Ted says:

    The West has always raped Africa for financial gain, giving nothing back in return, this time it may very well be for the last time, Botswana is a very large country with not many people living there.

    It’s abundance of wild life is a thing to behold and should be protected not destroyed, now I am concerned that the assurances given by this Tory Government that fracking is safe! how the hell can it be? when you listen to the comments made by industry experts in this documentary.

  3. Iain says:

    Interesting piece …Upstream newspaper … …reported from Botswana in 2005/2006 when coalbed methane exploration was first starting there …Upstream continues to cover CBM activities there

  4. Pingback: Gaz de schiste – 19 novembre 2013 « Comité de Citoyens Responsables de Bécancour

  5. Percival says:

    This sort of activity would surely have negative impacts on elephants, which communicate at very low frequencies that humans can’t even hear. Having been to the Kalahari, this is heartbreaking news. Can’t we humans learn to appreciate beauty as well as money?

  6. Elaine says:

    Shameful! What a sellout after years Govt policy to attract soft (very expensive) tourism and the rigorous
    enforcement of demountable game camps designed to leave no footprint on
    the environment – : “Botswana has quietly opened up vast areas,
    including delicate ecosystems, to unchecked development”, Just Shocking. However, one mistake in your script. The Karoo is NOT a desert. It is a semi-arid zone.

  7. Jeffrey Barbee says:

    serious issues around this are: 1 lack of transparency and public
    discourse, as well as readily available independent research to move the
    discussion forward on the facts. 2 Poor study into the health effects
    of the chemicals leaking into the air and water (there is not one peer
    reviewed study on Toluene-a major substance in Nat gas emissions) 3:
    collusion, intentional or not with regulatory agencies and the companies
    being regulated.

  8. Pingback: Exposed: fracking licenses granted in Bushmen’s reserve – Bye Bye Africa’s last hunting Bushmen | Worldwide Hippies

  9. Pingback: El Molino Online – De Survival International: Botsuana otorga licencias de fracking en la reserva de los bosquimanos

  10. Catherine says:

    Thank you Mira and Jeffrey for a fabulous film straddling two continents which brings home in no uncertain terms the true costs of this miserable industry. Films like yours will become an increasingly important tool in the fight for true awareness. I have also recently seen “Voices from the Gasfields”by Ian R Crane (which brought the Australian experience to the UK demonstrators) and I hear that FoE are considering producing something of their own with the makers of “Frackman”, which I’ve not seen yet. Great that the film is now available for download and thank you for screening it on RT in April 2015 in the UK – without which I would never have joined the successful demonstration against fracking in Lancashire! I’m sending you £100 with thanks for the link you made available for me to share with MPs, MSPs and Lancashire County Councillors. It all helped x x x x

    • Jeff Barbee says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words Catherine, everything helps as we try to get out the facts around gas drilling.
      Jeff Barbee

  11. Mnandi says:

    There are some discrepancies in this documentary.

    1. No fracking has taken place in Botswana. This was the official legal decision taken by the Botswana government but exploration for gas can continue provided one seals of aquifers through proper exploration borehole design and confirmation through geophysical tools.

    2. There is a big difference between exploration drilling and the actual production where hydraulic stimulation takes place. Exploration drilling takes place for ALL minerals in the world on all continents. No one is making a fuss about exploration drilling for platinum or gold through the same geological features yet drilling for those minerals through the same geological sequence require less stringent exploration borehole design.

    3. The “fracking pit” is false information. It is a calcrete pit that was used for the construction of the dirt road you drove on.

    Quite honestly. I am disappointed in this film.

    • Jeff Barbee says:

      As you can clearly see from this website at the end of this reply from Kalahari Energy, Fracking has indeed taken place in Botswana. I am also in possession of the footage of your “calcrete pit” now filled in after it was used as a frack pit. I am disappointed that facts like these continue to be denied by the government of Botswana, and that clear Environmental Management Plans were not absolutely required for any drilling and fracking to take place (As Sasol states on Camera in the film). We also have footage in the film where workers on the ground admit on hidden camera that hey have been fracking for years, maybe you should do some research or get a copy of the film. Here is the link to our evidence:

    • Jeff Barbee says:

      Sadly Mnandi you are wrong about your assertions. Here is a link to Kalahari Energy company’s own website (since taken down) showing that they had drilled frack pits in Botswana:
      Don’t lie and state no fracking has taken place in Botswana when the above linked documents show very clearly that it has and may even continue to be. They also fracked four wells inside the CKGR according to someone on the ground there who I spoke to.
      Also that calcrete pit on the right hand side of the road on the way to Hukuntsi was filled in months later and a gas drill stem sticks out of it to this day. Please get your own facts right, then we can talk about it further, its a shame that you continue to act falsly surprised about this information in our science film.
      Jeffrey Barbee

  12. David says:

    South Australia is suffering from the same plight and incredibly Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) which caused the biggest environmental disaster in Queensland history is still proposed in the backwater state of South Australia.

    A company Leigh Creek Energy is now in cahoots with a Chinese company New China Energy Group to push their development in the Flinders Ranges.

    Congratulations on the documentary, Fracking and UCG is a global virus that must be stopped and basic education of the back story is welcome.

    Sadly the national broadcaster in Australia the ABC has been compromised by corporate interests and little news gets published about the dangers of fracking and UCG.

    • ALLIANCE EARTH says:

      Hi David, yes its frustrating to see large interests dominate more mainstream outlets but I think that tide is slowly turning. The oil and gas companies are losing market share every day and that directly impacts their ability to pay for the false message that they are safe and operate cleanly. Good luck in your fight, I know that when you face something like that in your own back yard it can be daunting. You are not alone.

  13. Marc W. McCord says:

    You guys have dome a masterful job of depicting the major issues with oil and gas exploration and production, but you did make at least one glaring error – when you referred to cities, states and countries that have banned e&p you listed Dallas, Texas. I was one of the leaders in Dallas in this fight that took us 5 years to achieve. We did NOT ban frac’ing in Dallas, as that would have been a violation of state law and gotten us sued like Denton was sued for a similar action. What we did was pass a drilling ordinance that included most of the protections to which we were legally allowed to regulate, and the industry chose not to drill in Dallas. We merely raised the production cost by requiring certain environmental, health and safety protections that would have doubled (or more) the total production cost. The industry referred to it as “a de facto moratorium against drilling in Dallas.” Our ordinance was passed in 2013, and it has never been challenged in a court of law. No wells were ever drilled in Dallas, though 2,500 were drilled inside Fort Worth city limits. We saw it and stopped it by enacting a comprehensive drilling ordinance.

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