‘Truthland’ film takes pro-fracking approach

By Burton Speakman



As oil and gas development continues throughout the area, people continue to seek answers about the processes including fracking and risks.

A film made by a Pennsylvania woman, which was produced by the oil and gas industry, attempts to provide some answers.

Fracking is a process in which sand, water and chemicals are pumped into shale at a high pressure to release the gas trapped within the rock thousands of feet underground.

“Truthland” is a response to the “myths and distortions” that were presented in an HBO documentary “Gasland” produced by Josh Fox, said Dan Alfaro, spokesman for Energy In Depth.

“More than just setting the record straight through a compelling medium, what makes the film so interesting to watch is the star of the film herself: a mother and farmer from Pennsylvania named Shelly, who, shortly after watching ‘Gasland,’ sets out on a cross- country tour in search of facts,” he said. “With Shelly, the messenger is as strong as the message.”

The first Youngstown showing of “Truthland” will be Tuesday at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor (steel museum) at 151 W. Wood St. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. The documentary will be shown at 7, and a panel discussion will follow.

“Truthland” includes interviews from the Environmental Defense Fund and former regulatory officials among others, Alfaro said. The oil and gas industry paid the production costs of the firm, but those who appeared were not paid to do so.

“It’s very unfortunate that propaganda films such as ‘Gasland’ have had such an impact on the public conversation as it has caused a lot of unnecessary concern for the people who stand to benefit from shale development the most,” he said.

“Our main objective is to get the truth, get the facts out to the public, and this film accomplishes this in a powerful and meaningful way,” Alfaro said.

It was important to bring the film to Youngstown because this area has seen the benefits of Utica Shale development, Alfaro said.

The showing of “Truthland” will be followed nearly a month later, on Sept. 12, by a rally by those who oppose fracking.

The local rally is part of a national effort being coordinated by NEOGAP — Network for Oil & Gas Accountability & Protection — and Frackfree America National Coalition. The time and location of the local event is still to be determined, said Susie Beiersdorfer, a geologist who is part of the Frackfree America National Coalition and Frackfree Mahoning Valley.

“The public is not being fully or adequately informed of the risks of fracking and related processes to public health and safety and well-being,” she said.

“We are calling for increased transparency and public awareness about the truth of toxic fracking waste, which can contain naturally occurring radioactive material and numerous toxic chemicals or known carcinogens, like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, that could find their way into drinking water sources or into soil and air via leaks, surface spills near waterways, or well-casing failures,” she added.

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