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The Energy Industry Strikes Back: New Movie Billed As Rebuttal To "Gasland"

Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

A Susquehanna County drilling rig

The movie’s premise is simple: a Susquehanna County mom, concerned about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, goes on a cross-country journey to determine whether the warnings raised by Josh Fox’s “Gasland” are legitimate.
Except…it’s a bit more complicated than that. During a Harrisburg screening of  “Truthland,” star Shelly Depue admitted she was approached by the energy industry – and not the other way around – to produce the film. They booked the interviews she conducted, and set the agenda. And while Depue wasn’t paid for her participation, the Independent Petroleum Association of Pennsylvania and Energy In Depth picked up her travel tab.
The energy industry is aggressively marketing the 34-minute movie this summer, scheduling screenings and panel discussions across Pennsylvania. And while “Truthland” is getting negative production reviews – the Patriot News’ Donald Gilliland called it a mix of bad art and corporate messaging – several of the facts it highlights are well-established:

Why the focus on refuting “Gasland?” Energy In Depth’s John Krohn explained via email: “Quite simply, Gasland has been the source of much of the controversy surrounding natural gas extraction.  As such, the film is meant to be a resource for concerned citizens with questions on natural gas development that originated from that film.”
Depue agreed. “I think Gasland was the big one that got everybody up in arms. …The more people that watch that, the more people are up in arms, the more people that need to see the other side.” She asked whether I could name another film focused on natural gas drilling. I couldn’t.
What does Fox – who recently released a short follow-up to “Gasland” – think about this rebuttal? StateImpact Pennsylvania has reached out to the filmmaker, and will publish his response if and when we receive it.

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