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.
Campaign Manager, Energy In Depth - Northeast Marcellus Initiative
Like many who grew up in the Upper Delaware River valley, the mere mention of Gasland has grated on me like Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem. It’s not just the facts he got wrong or the truth he distorted. You expect that sort of thing from Josh Fox and it didn’t take long for Energy In Depth and several others to correct the record on the flaming Colorado faucet, Dunkard Creek and the rain rot present on some of the animals pictured. No, what was so offensive was the sheer arrogance, condescension and pretense that pervaded the movie from the very beginning.
Locals like me knew there was no $100,000 offer, knew Fox was never the owner of the land in question and knew he was anything but part of the community from which he claimed to spring. We knew the very premise of the movie was fake, from the start. But, truth always outs, eventually. Now it has in the form of a movie called, appropriately enough, Truthland. Moreover, the storyteller in this case isn’t a spoiled avant-garde showman from New York City pretending to be a country boy, but the real deal, a Susquehanna County mom, dairy farmer and teacher by the name of Shelly, who is everything Fox is not - sincere, honest and forthright, with a real stake in the future of our region.
U.S. Steel workers describe how natural gas development helped them get their jobs back following layoffs in 2009
John Hanger, featured in Truthland, discusses the safety of natural gas development at a recent event with the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York
Last December, EPA released a draft report on water quality in tiny Pavillion, Wyo., which was immediately seized upon by opponents of natural gas development in the United States (and even around the world) as smoking-gun proof that hydraulic fracturing pollutes drinking water. Never mind that the paper hadn’t been peer reviewed, or that within a few months the EPA to backtrack and admit that its testing procedures were inadequate, suspending peer review altogether until new sampling could be completed. Just two months after the release of the draft report, EPA Region 8 administrator Jim Martin told a House panel in no uncertain terms that the agency had not established a “causal link” between hydraulic fracturing and water contamination.
Fast-forward to today. Shale opponents have now seized upon yet another “report” (from Cornell, where else?) that supposedly links poor infant health (specifically low birth weight) to natural gas production. And, once again, the paper has not yet undergone peer review — the very process that helps sort out, at least in theory, legitimate scientific conclusions from simple suppositions or even outright activism. In fact, left unmentioned by the activists cheering the release of the paper is the fact that the author, Elaine Hill, is a graduate student in applied economics and management — hardly a field that one would expect to include complex epidemiological assessments.
With Congress’s August recess (ehem, “district work period”) only a week or so away, the last few remaining days of session are always incredibly busy around the Capitol – and this week was certainly no exception. Thankfully, though, thanks to the help and support of U.S. Reps. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.) – co-chairs of the Natural Gas Caucus— EID was able to secure a spot on an otherwise packed congressional agenda to screen “Truthland” at the Capitol Visitors Center on Wednesday.
Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) introduces Truthland at the U.S. Capitol