Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Truthland vs. Gasland

I just watched the movie "Truthland: Dispatches from the Real Gasland" (watch the whole movie here). It's a mockumentary created by the energy industry group Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) that follows a Pennsylvania woman who was horrified by Josh Fox's movie "Gasland" and set out on a road trip to "find the truth.”

 The film has a forced Sarah Palin-like folksiness to and comes off as realistically slick - in an indie hipster documentary kind of way - but it delivers a valid message that helps debunk "Gasland" as well or better than dozens of white papers or point-by-point rebuttals ever will. Make no mistake, it's a 34 minute industry commercial that paints an overly rosy picture of the gas industry, but it is a lot easier to watch than "Gasland" and a whole lot more realistic.

"Truthland" has its own flaming faucet, this time in upstate New York where there has been no gas drilling, along with other pyrotechnics, in this case explosives planted in a sample drill pipe construction to demonstrate its durability. The best interview is with Gary Hanson, director of the Red River Watershed Management Institute and professor of hydrology at LSU-Shreveport. He cites scientific evidence from thousands of oil and gas wells that have been microseismic fracture mapped that clearly shows that hydraulic fracturing is not a threat to groundwater. In a parting shot, the film also portrays the residents of Dimock, PA that are suing producers over water quality as greedy. A cheap shot? Probably.

 "Truthland" certainly is not going to end the debate about hydraulic fracturing or natural gas drilling, but it is an attempt to fight the battle on the same field as "Gasland."

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