If you're unfamiliar with the verb "hydrofrack," this week is a good time to get caught up. You can start with a showing of the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 21, at Charles Brooks Photography, 800 Luttrell St. The screening is sponsored by several local environmental groups, who hope that people will then turn out to a public hearing of the state Oil and Gas Board at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22, at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Knoxville field office, 3711 Middlebrook Pike.
Hydrofracking is a process by which energy companies pump enormous quantities of fluids into the ground to split open subterranean lairs holding reserves of oil or natural gas. As Gasland details, fracking has generated controversy in recent years because of allegations that the chemicals mixed with water in the fracturing fluid have contaminated groundwater, and that the process itself has allowed gas to flow into water supplies. Tennessee currently has no fracking restrictions, and that would not change under a set of revised regulations being considered by the Oil and Gas Board. The environmental groups hope public pressure can change that.