We love our eco-minded celebrities. While we can’t (yet) report on Matt Damon’s personal thoughts on fracking, we can confirm that he’s starring in a new film on fracking this December.

The film is said to center around Damon, whose character initially works for a pro-fracking company and eventually wises up and gets a soul… i.e. he becomes the anti-fracking hero. As a refresher, fracking is essentially the procedure of creating fractures in rock, and rock formations by injecting fluid into the ground at high pressure to break the rocks open and release natural gas inside.

Why is fracking dangerous? To summarize - fracking fluid typically contains a mixture of roughly 596 harmful chemicals including but not limited to arsenic, benzene, lead and phenol which can be released into drinking water supply.

The acclaimed and controversial Josh Fox documentary Gasland helped bring to light the dangers of fracking. Hopefully the release of Promised Land will further the conversation.

And, what do you know pro-fracking groups are already on the defensive!  The ever “fair and balanced” Fox News is condeming the film and all of hollywood for the activist sentiment that is present in many modern films. Well, Fox News could have stood to add a few more facts to the mentions of fracking in this story, and hopefully readers won’t take that diatribe at face value.

One of the strongest pro-fracking arguments is job creation. I get this, I do. Americans need jobs. But when there are more and more cases of peoples health being severely jeopardized by contaminated water - causing Leukemia and lymphoma, renal failure, pulmonary damage symptoms and more - does job creation trump disease?

I think Environmental scientist and biologist Sandra Steingraber is correct to pose the question, “will fracking kill more people than it employs?” (Steingraber was referring to the state of New York, but the problem is present in Pennsylvania and beyond. )

I encourage readers to make an effort to read up on both sides of the fracking argument. We are better able to affect change when we have the full picture. Unfortunately, big business oil and gas tend to have more dollars to further their message - louder and in brighter colors than the little guy.  But, the louder message isn’t always the truth.

Also starring in Promised Land two favorites – John Krasinski and Francis McDormand.

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  • Michael D

    Good for Hollywood, the anti-fracking message could use all the help it can get. I wonder if fox news would care to cover the health tradegies that left people seriously sick and helpless in Dimick

  • SW

    Question… because I don’t know the answer… is the complaint just about the solution being injected (which does sound nasty)? If they found an environmentally neutral solution that would as effectively pull the gas from the ground, would the complaints go away? Or will there always be an issue because it’s “big oil” or what have you?

  • http://www.greenphillyblog.com Julie

    Hi SW -

    Thanks for your question. I think the problem is there isn’t another way to pull the gas from the ground (yet), and it would be extremely difficult to do with fear of leaks.

    As Beth mentioned, there’s many problems with fracking. The hydraulic fracturing process utilizes large amounts of toxic chemicals – . Science has shown that it ends up in the water – that we, animals & plants drink. The problem is – even if someone were to “safeguard” the process, there’s STILL a possibility with something going wrong. (Reference: BP Oil Spill in the Gulf. Now, imagine that in your drinking supply.) Is it worth the risk? Water’s a resource we CAN’T live without and we’re playing Russian Roulette.

  • Wade

    I am a frack equipment operator who happens to be a regisered Democrat. Do you realize how many jobs are related to my industry? Do you know why job growth increased in several swing states like Ohio and PA? Because of fracking and the fracking boom. It would cripple the economy and our quest for energy independence if we were to ban fracking. Right now the companies our paying scientists and engineers to come up with ways to make it safer so that we can have the best of both worlds. Is that not the better answer than to just kill millions of jobs, like mine, for instance based on a Matt Damon movie??? …..

    I read your article and am thoroughly disgusted at your lack of facts. There is absolutely no proof that fracking has killed anybody. I urge you to do more research on the subject rather than watch a stupid, one sided documentary that is completely misinforming. A new pro-frack documentary called “Frack Nation” is coming out soon, and it’s not funded by any energy companies. I encourage you to watch that and read up on both sides yourself.

    I just don’t think we need to make irresponsible statements that could help destroy jobs, lives, drive up gas prices, and increase foreign dependency because of something that isn’t even settled. Matt Damon needs to come down to a frack location and meet some of the people who’s lives he intends to ruin with his silly movie.

    Lastly, EPA has done a study on fracking and they did not find any conclusive evidence that would back any of what the movie is claiming. I am on job sites all over Texas, day in and day out, and I am yet to hear of any farmers who have died from water contamination, or have arms growing out of their rears. So let’s just cool off and do some more research. If we do need to adjust the process then let’s do so, but let’s not hurt a fragile nation anymore than is necessary. I am a pragmatic guy, I see both sides but this is ridiculous. Let the attacks begin. Lol

    Just realized this was an anti-fracking website, so I guess I’m just ice skating up hill with my response. One question though? What if we developed to frack with out chemicals. Would you be okay with not destroying millions of jobs then?

  • Wade

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson sees “only an upside to hydraulic fracturing,” according to the New York Post. Jackson spoke at an energy conference in New Jersey last week to discuss fracking and to address environmental concerns over the controversial process of unearthing natural gas deposits from shale. The Post reports President Barack Obama also believes fracking will lead to job creation and does not mean America will have to choose between protecting our environment and bolstering the economy.

    Here are some facts about the New Jersey energy conference and statements from federal EPA officials.

    * Jackson said fracking is “perfectly capable of being clean” but requires technology innovators to make sure it’s done right, according to the Asbury Park Press. Jackson added “smart regulation” is needed.

    * During a U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing last year, Jackson testified she was not aware of any water contamination case proved to have been caused by fracking. The Asbury Park Press reports EPA groundwater impact investigations are ongoing and a final report is expected by the end of the year.

  • Wade

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it had ended testing of drinking water in a northeastern Pennsylvania community and declared it safe to drink, despite residents’ complaints of pollution from natural gas drilling.

    The EPA began testing four wells in Dimock late last year after some residents complained of illnesses involving their nerves, stomachs and skin. They blamed Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. for contaminating their water with chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

    The Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary Gasland featured Dimock residents lighting tap water on fire. Geologists say such methane contamination can occur naturally in well water. The area, in Susquehanna County, sits atop a section of the Marcellus Shale formation, which spans several Mid-Atlantic states.

    Between January and June, the EPA tested and re-tested private wells serving 64 homes. In May, the agency issued preliminary results that showed no signs of contamination from fracking.

  • Wade

    1- This 2009 piece from ProPublica that refers to a Garfield County, Colorado, study that contradicts certain gas industry assertions about methane in drinking water.

    2- This 2011 report from Scientific American that describes significant aquifer contamination from fracking fluids in Wyoming.

    3- A 2011 New York Times article that refers to the potential “first crack in the armor” of Rex Tillerson’s claims about fracking-related contamination.

    4- This article from Food and Water Watch in April of 2012.

    5- And this article from a March, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

  • Wade

    Sorry, that last comment was supposed to include links to the articles.

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