Frances McDormand and Matt Damon in Promised Land.
Promised Land, the Matt Damon fracking movie recently released nationwide, has had somewhat of a lukewarm critical reception. But it’s definitely getting bad reviews from the natural gas industry.
The film, in which Damon plays an energy company representative trying to convince small-town farmers to lease their land for fracking, is the target of a ongoing misinformation campaign by natural gas industry-backed groups. The organizations, which bill themselves as independent and broad-based, are bankrolled by some of the biggest names in oil and gas, and have a history of bashing organizations and initiatives that question the safety of fracking, an environmentally hazardous process that involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and industrial chemicals into shale wells to fracture rock and push out oil and gas.
Even though Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant and produced by Focus Features, doesn’t spook the industry as much as Gasland, the 2010 Josh Fox documentary about the eco-damage natural gas drilling can do, gas companies are not taking any chances. Back in October, The Wall Street Journal reported that “the energy industry already [was] preparing for battle,” with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, an association of energy producers, planning to distribute pro-fracking flyers at movie theaters, send out scientific studies to film reviewers and launch a social media campaign.
Energy in Depth, a PR group created by IPAA set up a website, called “The Real Promised Land,” where readers are treated to pronouncements on the environmental safety and economic potential of fracking by, among others, President Obama and outgoing EPA chief Lisa Jackson, who is quoted as saying that “in no case have we made a definitive determination that the [fracturing process] has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.” (A large body of research, by the likes of the EPA, Duke University and the National Academy of Sciences have linked groundwater contamination to fracking.)