How has Matt Damon’s film “Promised Land” performed at the box office since it opened in December? And what are the differences in the way the oil and gas industry has perceived the film, compared to the public’s view of it?
The film, co-written with John Krasinski of “The Office,” stars Damon as a landman who enters a rural town in Pennsylvania to negotiate the mineral rights of landowners there. He is met with both optimism and skepticism from those inside the community, as he works to give his company the right to drill on their property. Since its release Dec. 28, the “Promised Land” has been billed as an anti-fracking movie by many inside and outside the industry.
It has largely flopped since its opening, bringing in only $7.5 million at the end of January. That pales in comparison to “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” which opened on the same weekend and has since sold $33.6 million in tickets.
In October, the conservative Heritage Foundation first reported that the film was partially financed by Image Nation, a company owned by the oil-rich government of the United Arab Emirates. This stirred the ire of the American oil and gas industry, which also claimed that the movie inaccurately portrayed the scientific aspects of its business.
Still, some in the public interviewed by Shale Sheet felt the film did fairly portray the struggles of dealing with companies hoping to secure mineral rights in communities across Ohio and Pennsylvania.
What is the oil and gas industry doing to address concerns about the possibility of water contamination and air pollution during fracking? I know in New York, legislators are considering whether to even let fracking go forward. Could that happen here?
It’s important to remember that oil and gas drilling has been occurring in Ohio for decades. Multiple rock formations gave rise to production across the state as early as 1860.
In May 2012, state legislators passed Senate Bill 315, a sweeping overhaul of the state’s energy laws, designed to accommodate the influx of oil and gas companies coming to drill at locations primarily along the state’s eastern border. The law gave a number of state agencies new capacities in regulating the industry. In other words, oil and gas is here to stay.
In New York, the industry has expressed an interest in drilling into portions of the Marcellus shale formation, which continues underneath Pennsylvania, West Virginia and a small portion of Ohio. Since the interest is new in the state, lawmakers have placed a moratorium on operations there until they’ve made a final decision.
In a recently released report from the American Petroleum Institute, the group found that the oil and gas industry has spent $252 billion on environmental compliance since 1990. The industry spent about $13 billion in 2011, including $11 billion to implement new technologies, create cleaner fuels and fund ongoing environmental initiatives. An additional $1.9 billion was spent on research and development, corporate environmental programs and spill remediation efforts.
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