Ever try to light your tap water on fire?

Josh Fox has witnessed the phenomenon firsthand (see photo, above).

The filmmaker chronicles the largest natural gas drilling boom in U.S. history in his documentary GasLand—and the environmental ramifications aren’t pretty. The film premiered on HBO last week and will air through 2012. (Click here to view the trailer.)

The film’s genesis was Fox’s discovery that natural gas drilling was about to start in the  Catskills/Poconos region of New York and Pennsylvania, where he lives. He was offered $100,000 to sign over drilling rights to his land.

Fox traveled to 24 states to expose how Dick Cheney’s pals at Halliburton developed a new drilling system called “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing), which may permanently contaminate the country’s water supply and worsen air pollution.

Chronically ill residents in drilling areas shared common symptoms and discovered that an urban legend held true: They could light fires straight from the faucet.

Drilling-related pools of toxic waste were also killing cattle and vegetation. Oil-well blowouts and gas explosions regularly occurred, only to be covered up by officials.

Not an HBO subscriber? A 2010 Sundance Film Festival award winner, GasLand will be available on DVD in December.

Photo courtesy of International WOW Company