One of the things I like about this is that during the Bush administration, Vice President Cheney's energy task force made sure that the gas companies did not have to reveal what the chemicals were that were being pumped into the ground. Now, it's been reported that some are things like kerosene, benzene, urea, toluene... how many of those can I feed my toddler? Because it’s perfectly safe, right? ~ Stephen Colbert in a 6/9/2011 interview with former bush Homeland Security advisor and current natural gas lobbyist Tom Ridge.
Hydraulic fracturing is fracking awesome according to the self-proclaimed "Moderate" Willis V. Hart, but I say he is a fracking idiot. On 6/6/2013 Mr. Hart authored a post he called Oily Bed-fellows. In his commentary Hart trashed actor Matt Damon for his role in co-writing and starring in a particular Hollywood film...
|Willis Hart: There are some things in life that are just so utterly delicious in their irony that you simply cannot pass them up. Take for instance this little factoid. DID YOU KNOW that one of the premium bank-rollers for Matt Damon's propagandist piece of shit hit-piece, "Promised Land" (a dramaturgical counterpart to Matthew Fox's anti-fracking HBO screed, "Gasland"), was none other that the royal family of the United Arab Emirates?|
"Utterly delicious", huh? Well, recalling a certain climate change denying "scientist" he often cites, I view Willis' schadenfreude a wee bit hypocritical. I submitted a reply to Mr. Hart's post, although he has comment moderation enabled and has banned me from his blog, so the following most likely will not be published...
|What about the "oily bedfellow" Dr. Richard S. Lindzen? According to this source...  Lindzen charged oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services.  His 1991 trip to testify before a Senate committee was paid for by Western Fuels.  A speech he wrote, titled "Global Warming: the Origin and Nature of Alleged Scientific Consensus" was underwritten by OPEC.|
Yet Mr. Hart has no issues citing this individual whose motives could be questioned seeing as Big Oil is providing some of his funding. Fact is Willis frequently sings his praises, claiming that Lindzen's works are "well thought out". Yeah, I bet he thinks long and hard about how big of a check from Big Oil it will take for him to sell out.
This is the comment I would have submitted if I were not banned, even though it doesn't actually address the issue of Promised Land being financed by a company owned by the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, which it was. Obviously the purpose of the reply would have been to provoke Mr. Hart (and it could have comments like this that contributed to me being banned). But, heck I couldn't have helped myself, due to him describing this film as a "propagandist piece of shit hit-piece". It isn't that at all. It is a film based on the legitimate concerns and dangers that come with fracking.
Unfortunately the film did tank, as the Hartster points out. It made a little over 8 million on a 15 million budget. Why that happened isn't hard to deduce. The topic is not one the apathetic public really cares about, plus the movie isn't that good. I wanted to like it, but I watched it (I doubt Mr. Hart did) and give it a "C". Mostly because the film plays fast and lose with the facts. Not the facts regarding fracking, about which it does not go into a lot of detail, but the facts regarding how it is decided if fracking will be allowed to take place in any particular area.
An NPR review of the film points out that "in Pennsylvania, where this film was made, municipalities have very little authority over what happens [and that] they certainly don't get an up-and-down vote [as depicted in the movie]". And a town vote is at the heart of the movie. An environmentalist comes to town (played by John Krasinski) and the energy company representative (played by Matt Damon) gets worried that he may sway the vote against allowing the fracking to go forward. But that's all BS and not at all how it actually works in the real world.
And then there's the "switcheroo" near the end... I can understand why people didn't like it. Several reviews I read mentioned it (but didn't give it away, so I won't either). One reviewer said it "insults both the characters and the audience" and is "unforgivable". Yikes. I wouldn't go quite that far. IMO this "town vote" contrivance is more "unforgivable" than the switcheroo which didn't bother me nearly as much.
Regarding the film's financing... yes, that is troubling. They really shouldn't have jumped into bed with a company that could be seen as having ulterior motives for putting up the cash. Do a internet search on this movie and you'll find that the Right is slamming this movie because the Saudis would like it very much if we didn't frak so much (which is why they financed the movie). That way they could sell us more oil than if we took our foot off the breaks and started fraking like crazy.
So their financiers may have had, or probably had an ulterior motive, but what about the film makers? I say no. They probably knew this type of movie was a little more risky than another mindless action film, but they felt passionately that people needed to be informed. In any case, who financed the film is a legitimate criticism, just like it is valid to criticize the climate change deniers that are financed by Big Oil.
But I wouldn't say the criticisms are equal. I say it is MORE suspect that the Big Oil funded "climate scientist" Dick Lindzen says climate change is "no big deal" (he acknowledges it is happening to some extent), and that it is LESS suspect that the filmmakers had ulterior motives.
I say they didn't have any at all. Their financiers, yes, they probably did. But the filmmakers? No. And for that reason I most certainly would not call Promised Land a "propagandist piece of shit hit-piece". I'd call it an average (or slightly less than average) movie, but one where those involved (aside from the financiers) had the RIGHT motives.
OK, so Promised Land isn't that good, and is also light on facts regarding the dangers of fracking. If you want those facts I say you need to watch the superior documentary Gasland by Josh Fox (which I have also viewed). Here we get the in-depth low-down regarding the very serious problems that come with fracking. Problems that Mr. Hart totally denies with the following comment...
|Willis Hart: ...when you find something that is a) plentiful, b) relatively safe (Obama's own EPA chief has said that there's never been a documented case of fracking causing well-water contamination), and c) relatively clean (gas has a hydrogen to carbon ratio of 2:1, coal a 1:2 ratio), you really gotta go for it (not without adequate regulations, I grant you), I think.|
Adequate regulations? Are you kidding? I'm not aware of there being any at all! OK, I'm sure there must be SOME, but as Gasland points out... the 2005 energy bill pushed through Congress by Dick Cheney exempts the oil and natural gas industries from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the CERCLA Superfund law, and about a dozen other regulations. Does that sound to YOU like there are "adequate regulations"? REALLY? And if fracking is "relatively safe" as Willis claims, why would the companies that do it need all these exemptions?
|Weston Wilson: All science, all data. Everything stopped. We were appalled that we were burying this secret, that [the fracking fluid] was known to be toxic. When the president says don't investigate, expedite things for industry. We do those things well too. We're still asleep at the wheel. Don't assume that since Obama was elected something has changed (yet) at the EPA in that regard.|
Huh. That might explain why Obama's EPA chief Lisa Jackson said the EPA hasn't confirmed any contamination. You can't find what you aren't looking for. Mr. Hart frequently authors commentaries where he complains about how the government has gotten into bed with industry, but here he turns a blind eye to it. Wanna bet that if a commenter mentioned this on his blog he'd call it a "conspiracy theory"?
Things are slowly changing, however. It was on 5/24/2011 that Lisa Jackson said that, while no cases of contamination were proven yet, there are ongoing investigations. Where any particular pollutant came from and how it got there (in the water) is something that is hard to prove. Since EPA Chief (now ex-chief) Jackson made her comments there has been a report issued by the EPA regarding the possibility of groundwater contamination caused by fracking in Pavilion Wyoming. On 12/9/2011 the EPA released their draft finding for public comment and independent scientific review. In part the EPA report said...
|...three years ago... two deep monitoring wells [were drilled] to sample water in the aquifer... [Tests indicate] groundwater in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including ... synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids, benzene concentrations well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards and high methane levels. [Sampled water] in the private and public drinking water wells [revealed] chemicals [that]... include methane [and] other petroleum hydrocarbons... [The EPA's conclusion is that] the presence of these compounds is consistent with migration from areas of gas production.|
In his film Josh Fox says fracking fluid is a mix of over 596 chemicals, some the frackers refuse to disclose... to others that are known carcinogens (ethylbenzene). Doing some rough math Josh estimates that  1-7 million gallons of water is used per fracked well,  each well can be fracked up to 18 times, and  around 450,000 wells have been drilled in the US... which means that approximately 40 trillion gallons of fracking fluid contaminated water has been pumped into the ground.
We're supposed to believe that absolutely none of this contaminated water has made it into any groundwater, aquifer, lake or stream? I think you've got to be fracking stupid if you believe that.
Video Description: Former Secretary of Homeland Security and current natural gas lobbyist Tom Ridge repeats the now proven false Lisa Jackson EPA claim that there are no confirmed cases of fracking contaminating groundwater (at 3:09 minutes into the video). The Colbert Report, 6/9/2011. (6:20).