Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Promise Land

Friday night we got to see Promise Land!

I was very excited about this film. ...Mostly because of John Krasinski, because I'm a huge fan of the office, but also because of the subject matter: natural gas drilling.

I first learned about natural gas drilling in 2010 when I started reporting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. My coverage area was right on top of the Fayetteville Shale, and I wrote lots of stories about how natural gas drilling affects the environment.

It turned out be an amazing experience, offering me experiences I never dreamed of: getting to write lots of amazing stories; learning complicated things about science and engineering and the environment; earning the trust of some pretty conservative city and county officials; pissing off some state senators; meeting one very courageous filmmaker named Josh Fox.

He made this documentary:

Of course, as a reporter, I was supposed to remain neutral, and I think I did a pretty good job of that in my writing at the time. But as a native Arkansan and as a HUMAN, the entire natural gas drilling process terrifies me. It absolutely terrifies me.

One of my frustrations with almost all the national media when it comes to this issue is that they focus on the areas of the country already hardest hit by fracking: Colorado and the Marcellus Shale in the Northeast.

Arkansas, along with parts of Oklahoma and Texas are being hardest hit RIGHT NOW, and the problem with Arkansas' Fayetteville Shale is that it's not as deep as other formations. That means that the chemicals, water and sand being injected at high pressures isn't going as deep into the ground as it is in other places... But, I'd like to talk to the person who thought shooting chemicals into the ground was a good idea in the first place. (I could go on and on about this forever...)

I love the simple fact that this film was made, but I love that it was made well. And, SPOILER, John Krasinski turns out to be the bad guy?! I'm not sure if that particular plot turn was realistic or not, but I'm sure a lot of the other parts of the movie was. In fact, I teared up when the people from "Global" met with landowners and basically bribed and blackmailed them into signing their rights away. I know the same thing happened in some of the amazing communities I covered back home, and it hurts me to think about.

Yes, the gas companies are supporting the community now. Back home in north-central Arkansas, they sponsor community events and help out any way they can. But what happens when they've sucked the shale dry and everyone's riddled with health complications?

I hope we figure out a solution before it comes to that. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, or if you want to learn more check out Promise Land (and Gasland). They're both great films!

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