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A woman’s search for answers debunks myths along the way.
One thing is certain about Josh Fox, maker of the film “Gasland” -- he got a reaction with his film. Environmentalists cheered, and the oil and gas industry sneered. But many people with land in the Marcellus shale just got scared. Very scared.
After all, the film depicts a voracious and unregulated natural gas industry that participates in unsavory practices that result in air and water pollution. For people who rely on fresh water for their crops, livestock, and families, the film must have been truly troubling.
In a newly released film, “Truthland,” one rural Pennsylvanian had enough questions about the film that she decided to set out and get answers. The film depicts Shelly Depue, a science teacher in Susquehanna County, compiling a list of questions aided by her husband and children to ask the experts. Their questions are simple and understandable: what about the burning water? Is our water safe for livestock and crops? Can I wash my baby with it?
“When we were told we could have natural gas under our farm, we felt very blessed,” Depue is quoted as saying in a “Truthland” press release. “But that excitement was tempered somewhat by the negative stories we had heard about hydraulic fracturing. Then came ‘Gasland,’ and that made it even tougher to determine what the truth really was. Well, the science teacher in me had questions, and I owed it to my family to go and find out what was real.
“To get our questions answered, I knew I needed to go where the experts were, And so that’s exactly what I did.”
She interviewed more than a dozen energy and environmental experts across six states to come up with the answers. Among them was John Hanger, former secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in Harrisburg, Pa., who assured Depue that the industry is indeed heavily regulated and that there’s been no evidence ever of fracture fluid entering a water well.
She also visited Joseph Martin, a professor and engineer at Drexel University in Philadelphia, who explained that methane was the product the energy companies wanted to produce and so it was very much not in their best interest to be polluting nearby water wells with it.
The film was produced by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and Energy In Depth (EID) and underwritten by industry, though no one who appeared in the film was paid.
“Obviously this isn’t the first time something has been released that sets the record straight on the mountain of misinformation in ‘Gasland,’” said Jeff Eshelman, vice president of public affairs for IPAA and executive vice president of EID.
“But it is the first time that these facts have been transmitted in such vivid detail, through such a compelling medium, as part of a story told by someone as genuine and inspirational as Shelly -- someone whose stake in responsible development and in protecting air, water, and the environment is both very serious and deeply personal.”
The movie is available for viewing along with additional information. www.truthlandmovie.com/
Contact the author, Rhonda Duey, at firstname.lastname@example.org.