Fracking advocates fight fire with film
Oil, gas industry uses movies to counter negative publicity
It’s “Truthland” versus “Gasland.”
The American Petroleum Institute (API) hosted a film festival recently in Washington, D.C. during which excerpts from several pro-fracking films were screened. The event was a response to the critical-of-fracking documentary “Gasland,” by independent filmmaker Josh Fox. “Gasland” has been shown on HBO and in public screenings and is also available on DVD.
“America’s shale energy revolution is providing enormous new opportunities for our nation’s energy and economic security,” said Jack Gerard, President and CEO of API. Gerard said Fox used his film to “twist facts and misinform in order to turn Americans against the development of shale natural gas and oil through hydraulic fracturing.”
Fox began developing his documentary after being asked to lease his land for drilling. He embarked on a cross-country odyssey during which he says he uncovered “a trail of secrets, lies and contamination” such as when residents of a recently drilled Pennsylvania town reported that they were able to light their drinking water on fire.
“When I was investigating gas drilling across the United States, I heard time after time from citizens that the industry disputed the citizens' claims of water and air contamination and denied responsibility for their health problems and other problems related to drilling,” said Fox. “It is truly unfortunate that the gas-drilling industry continues to deny what is so obvious to Americans living in gaslands across the nation instead of taking responsibility for the damage they are causing."
The API’s Gerard, however, says the newer films offer a more balanced look at hydraulic fracturing.
“While some of the films have divergent opinions about our future energy portfolio, they all promote the vital role for natural gas through hydraulic fracturing,” he said.
“Empire State Divide,” by New York State Petroleum Council Executive Director Karen Moreau, explores fracking in the Marcellus Shale portions of Pennsylvania, and makes the case for New York state approving it on some scale. “Truthland,” features Pennsylvania science teacher Shelly Depue dispelling misinformation about hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development. “Frack Nation’s” Phelim McAleer contends that some opponents aren’t interested in responsible development; they want to block natural gas altogether.
For his part, Fox says he believes “Gasland” is helping bring Halliburton-developed drilling technology – and its effects -- to greater attention.