President, Joint Landowners Coalition of New York
One day I answered a call from a filmmaker who was looking for a farmer who might want a closer look at the issues surrounding natural gas development. Other than an open mind and an inquisitive nature, the filmmaker didn’t give me many requirements for this person. Immediately, a childhood friend came to mind. Shelly is a mom and farmer and I’ve always known her to speak her mind and to tell the truth. I saw this journey as more important than Shelly’s trip. I saw it as a way to telegraph important information to thousands of landowners who also wanted to know the truth about natural gas development, but wouldn’t get the chance to go on a nationwide trek to do so. I knew Shelly would be the perfect messenger, because she had firsthand experience with a gas well on her property; a son who worked for the industry; and because she is originally from NY and wanted to help get the truth out about natural gas issues among people whose rights to develop their own land had been taken away.
As the president of the 70,000 member Joint Landowners Coalition, I am all too familiar with the misinformation spread by Gasland. In Truthland, various experts respond to those claims and separate fact from fiction on issues surrounding natural gas development and fracking, such as water, use of chemicals, methane migration, and whether livestock, crops and people are affected. Various experts point out how Gasland was misleading and led to erroneous conclusions in an artful and folksy way that encouraged believability.
Now that the film is ready for release, I am reflecting on my recommendation of Shelly to take the trip. I’m glad she agreed. In many ways, the film mirrors the journey of my group: to seek the truth ourselves, and to rely on facts, science and experts, to ensure we make the right decisions about developing our precious land in NY State. I remain hostile to the notion that so many people were led astray with a fictitious film; but now that Truthland is debuting, I can begin to replace that with a resolute empowerment – to continue to get the truth out – to implore people to talk to experts, to trust the science. And thanks to Shelly’s journey, I can now do so with an excellent tool in hand.