I'm a huge fan of documentaries.
Doesn't matter what it is, either... I'll watch anything from an in-depth biography of eccentric and legendary jazz musician Sun Ra (see Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise) to a fascinating perspective on life in modern China (see Up The Yangtze).
Even my Netflix queue is heavily weighted in documentaries, which tends to drive my wife crazy.
And being in the position I'm in as the managing editor of Green Chip Stocks — which boasts a readership of about 150,000 — I also have the privilege of being included on early updates of new documentaries in production, specifically “green” docs.
One that I've actually been aware of for quite some time is called Gasland.
Gasland is a movie that investigates the natural gas drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale region, certainly a topic we can relate to, as we've devoted a decent amount of coverage to the integration of natural gas trucks and buses.
This is a market that will continue to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years.
That being said, natural gas — like all forms of energy — is not environmentally benign.
And in Gasland, we get to see some proof of this as director Josh Fox provides a long list of some pretty troubling issues surrounding the production of natural gas.
Here are just a few that he discusses in the movie:
the 80,000 pounds of chemicals that are injected into the earth's crust to frack each well
a loophole in the '05 Energy Bill that exempts gas drillers from EPA guidelines like the Clean Water Act
fracking fluid calls for two million gallons of water transported by up to 100 water-haulers
We know what all this means for the environment... But what does it mean for Green Chip investors?
Perception versus profits
I've known about this movie for a while now — even before it was released.
But to be completely honest, I never thought it would've had such a profound impact on folks that got to see it for the first time this past Monday night, when HBO featured it.
The press surrounding this doc has been amazing. Go ahead and do an Internet search on “Gasland,” and you'll see for yourself just how much coverage this documentary is getting. It's really quite impressive, and it's definitely causing a stir.
In fact over the past two days alone, I've received 28 emails from folks who wanted to know why we would cover natural gas-related stocks if we claim to support clean energy.
It is true that our intention is to focus primarily on green stocks. We've always been strong advocates of solar, geothermal, wind, energy efficiency, mass transit, electric vehicles, and organic food markets...
But admittedly, natural gas has always been a slippery slope for us.
As I said, no form of energy is environmentally benign. Some of us here at Green Chip maintain that natural gas is a cleaner substitute for diesel; it is certainly much cleaner than coal-fired power for utility-scale generation.
Others believe that there are a number of issues with natural gas that make it impossible to be considered “green” — at least when compared to things like solar and wind.
Certainly this is a personal perspective, and it is not our intention to dictate to you what can be considered “green” and what can't.
We're simply here to provide you with the facts and the data you need to help you profit from the transition of our energy economy.
So for those of you who are investing in natural gas — or looking to invest in natural gas-related stocks, take a look at what my colleague Nick Hodge had to say about natural gas last weekend:
... right now, when it looks like renewables and oil will be playing political seesaw for some time to come, it means investing in natural gas.
You see, natural gas is on political common ground.
It's fossil fuel that burns cleaner than coal and oil; and it's cheap and abundant right here in the States.
So while other energy technologies are penalized because of political doubletalk and uncertain future, natural gas has established a bottom and started to rally.
There will once again be opportunities elsewhere once the spill is stopped, the cleanup is completed, and we start focusing on a clean energy future.
But until then, I'm long on natural gas.
Is there money to be made in natural gas? Of course. And we will leave it up to the discretion of the individual editor as to whether or not he or she will cover natural gas-related stocks.
But if environmental issues do dictate your investment decisions, and you want to see Gasland for yourself, the doc appears throughout the rest of this month and into the next on HBO. It's actually a pretty fascinating movie.
Here's the trailer if you'd like to get an early preview.
And let us know your thoughts...
Is natural gas a "clean" energy solution?
Is this a sector where you expect to profit?
Does the natural gas industry need better regulation?
We welcome your comments, but as always, please keep them civil.
To a new way of life, and a new generation of wealth...