Keep on Frack’in

Member Group : PA Manufacturers' Assn.

Here’s hoping that British High Court Judge Michael Burton has reason to view and write an opinion on Promised Land, the anti-fracking film Hollywood is serving up for the American viewing public.

It was Judge Burton who ruled in 2007 that Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ come with a warning before being screened in British classrooms because the movie draws nine conclusions that fly in the face of modern science. The Judge wrote that he hoped the warning message would prevent "political indoctrination" of the students. Promised Land’s anti-fracking and, in a larger sense, anti-business message takes a lesson directly from the Al Gore training manual for radical environmentalism: the end justifies twisting the facts and actually demands outright fabrication when you have no facts on your side.

On a side note, the film compounds its sin by being lackluster, slow to develop, and downright boring. This viewer was surely hoping that Matt Damon, who plays a representative for a natural gas company, would revert to his Jason Bourne role and deliver a cosmic roundhouse to an environmentalist, vaulting him into next century where he could see for himself that business wasn’t scorching the Earth after all.

No such luck. In one scene an environmentalist, played by John Krasinski (spoiler alert: who in a gratuitous twist later in the story actually works for the big business bad guys), purportedly demonstrates the results of fracking before a grade school classroom. While he pours chemicals over a toy farm setup, he says this is what drillers do to the "water you drink, the water the cows drink, the water your puppies and kittens drink." He ignites the farm with a lighter. This proves what? That you can burn a toy farm with chemicals and a lighter and impress kids.

Mix fracking with kids, kittens, and puppies and you bake up another convenient untruth for the anti-business agenda of the left that not even movie critics enjoy. On the popular film review website Rotten Tomatoes, the film to date only received a 40% grade with audience reviewers and a 50% with professional movie critics. One reviewer, Bob Bloom of the Journal and Courier of Lafayette, Illinois wrote, "Sadly, Promised Land chooses to take the lazy road and simply become another member of the liberal posse that finds it easier to place a black hat on big business than to have an adult discussion about complex issues."

"Natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation is revitalizing Pennsylvania’s economy, creating opportunity in places that haven’t seen it in generations," said PMA Executive Director David N. Taylor. "Pennsylvanians deserve an honest conversation about the real benefits and potential drawbacks of natural gas drilling, rather than having radical environmental movie stars use foreign oil profits to propagandize against domestic energy production. Across the New York line, we are witnessing celebrity-induced media hysteria against natural gas development, despite the dire need for jobs upstate. Here are my two words of response to Matt Damon’s sensational nonsense: nice try. "

Fracking is the use of high pressure water, sand and chemicals to break up rock deep underground, hundreds of feet below the water table. The process releases natural gas at quantities and costs that are making America energy independent and our businesses competitive again as many manufacturers rely on the inexpensive gas and its byproducts. But Promised Land ensures the audience that fracking is a detriment because the process contaminates groundwater. The problem with this premise is that it doesn’t.

Outgoing EPA Secretary Lisa Jackson said in April 2012: "In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater." Ms. Jackson was not known for enacting business friendly regulations while in office.

No state has undergone a more thorough review of the environmental impact of fracking than New York; a state that halted almost all natural gas drilling in 2009. In a report published a year ago, the New York Department of Health gave fracking a clean bill of health and now the state is apparently on the verge of allowing the activity to return to the Empire State.

In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection has some of the most stringent regulations in the nation to safeguard groundwater and surface water. Among other protocols, law requires that natural gas suppliers test water sources within 2500 of a well before and after drilling for gas.

It turns out the Pennsylvania drinking wells have problems all their own. A 2011 study by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania found that nearly 40 percent of all water wells fail at least one safe drinking water act and 20 percent have detectable levels of methane that have nothing to do with fracking.

For its part, the industry through its Marcellus Shale Coalition, bought advertising time to run before ‘Promised Land’ in 75 percent of the theaters where the film is showing. The ad advises viewers (and we at PMA encourage our readers) to visit to get the facts. A spokesman for the Coalition, Travis Windle, told ABC News that the group recognizes the "purely fictional Hollywood film would increase focus on the industry, which supports 240,000 jobs in our state…"

Finally, it is worth noting that a not so honorable agenda exists behind the save-the-world from big business message in this movie. It was financed in part by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, which is wholly owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). An investigative reporter with the Heritage Foundation, Lachlan Markay, wrote after the revelation of who was backing the film that the UAE, as a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has "a direct financial interest… in slowing the development of America’s natural gas industry (full story: click here)." The domestic natural gas industry failing means continued reliance on foreign oil from countries such as those that comprise OPEC.

Keep on truckin’ is a phrase from the 1930’s song Trucking My Blues Away. This sentiment of marching forward against adversity was captured in 1968 in a cartoon by Robert Crumb. It shows smiling men leaning back yet walking with a large left foot forward over dozens of different landscapes. Hippies adopted the cartoon image as a symbol of optimism for the movement. Might be nice to put a fat paycheck in that man’s hand and give him a real reason to smile. Keep on frackin’.

In Other News

Budget, Transportation Early Concerns of New Legislative Session

The 2013-14 legislative session, with 23 new lawmakers, began on January 1 under a constitutional requirement that swearing in occur the first Tuesday in January. The new members will have little time to adjust to the rules and routine as they will have to embrace transportation funding, liquor privatization, another tight budget, and we at PMA hope they will tackle key business issues left over from last year. Read more…

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