‘Truthland’ challenges assertions in ‘Gasland’

By Burton Speakman



For the first time in the Mahoning Valley, residents had a chance to watch a movie designed to debunk many of the claims made in the “Gasland” documentary.

“Truthland” was screened Wednesday at Ohio Valley College of Technology. Independent Petroleum Association of America and Energy In Depth paid the production costs of the documentary.

This is the first time that fracking has been portrayed in this manner, said Daniel Alfaro, communications director for Energy in Depth-Ohio.

“This movie goes a long way in clarifying some of the more prominent myths and misconceptions we see and hear about oil and gas development,” he said.

It’s important that people have the ability to have facts about shale gas development being presented by experts in the field, Alfaro said.

“It’s goes back to the old Winston Churchill adage — a lie can travel halfway across the globe before the truth has a chance to get its pants on,” he said. “While there is an abundance of information and expert opinion that directly rebukes the propaganda portrayed in ‘Gasland,’ the myths portrayed in the film have, unfortunately, caused a lot of unnecessary concerns from the people who stand to benefit the most from Ohio’s oil and gas development.”

“Gasland” took liberties with facts and the truth, Alfaro said.

After the screening of “Truthland,” experts including Columbiana County Commissioner Mike Halleck and Brandon Calhoun of Chesapeake Energy presented a forum.

“We haven’t had a lot of complaints about fracking in our county,” Halleck said. “I think part of that has to do with the rural nature of our county.”

It is still early in the shale formation development, but figures show that by 2020 more people will be working in the oil and gas industry in Columbiana County than the county’s current population, he said.

There are already 15 different companies affiliated with the industry working within the county, Halleck said.

“Most of the people here like the oil and gas companies,” he said. “We’ve had a phenomenal experience.”

There is already a shortage in the housing supply. Companies are coming to the area talking about adding extra housing, from mobile homes to other forms, Halleck said.

“There could be 1,500 to 5,000 wells in Columbiana County in the next five years,” he said.

Calhoun compared the Utica Shale development to what occurred within the Haynesville Shale. The western part of the shale is thinner, but it has more oil and heavy wet gas. The eastern part of the shale is thicker and has lighter gas.

Chesapeake only moved into the Utica Shale in August 2011 and the company has already spent $1 billion on leases in northeast Ohio, he said.

“Development could begin to ramp up any time in the next year to five years,” Calhoun said.

Chesapeake wants to develop soon, before the typical five-year lease term runs out because of the significant investment it has made in the area, he said.

Columbiana County is one of the areas in which Chesapeake has made a large investment, Calhoun said.

The woman who stars in “Truthland” does a great job, said Keith Williams of Wellsville, who came to see the movie.

“Truthland debunks a lot of the falsehoods of Josh Fox in the ‘Gasland’ movie,” Williams said.

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