The new film, Promised Land, focuses on an energy company’s attempt to secure leases for fracking operations in a small rural community. The gas industry reacted stronglyto the film distributing counter fact-sheets and considering leafleting movie viewings or setting up “truth squads” on Twitter. Yet, despite the industry reaction, the film is not strongly anti-fracking, unlike the documentary Gasland. TheNew York Times review states that the movie, while clearly biased towards the anti-fracking position, presents both sides of the issue.
While the gas industry tries to rebut the environmental damages caused by fracking, what cannot be disputed is the lack of choice rural communities face when it comes to economic development. This lack of choice is the real message within Promised Land. Rural communities across the country have so little access to economic development that they are easy targets for polluting industries. Even if, for argument’s sake, fracking can be done safely, it is far from having the regulations necessary in place to ensure its safety. Yet communities are already being exposed to unsafe fracking practices for limited potential economic benefit. The choice is literally between continued poverty or health and environmental hazards.
Fracking is not a hypothetical extraction method. The debate over whether or not it can be done safely ignores the reality that it is currently not being done safely. Communities across the country, including in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Ohio, are suffering from fracking operations. A small recent sampling of articles highlights: