I encourage everyone to see Promised Land and to bring your family, friends, and these postcards addressed to President Obama to hand out to movie goers. Also, Sierra Club has a very handy discussion guide for you to use after you leave the theater.
Matt Damon's new flick, Promised Land, is a delightful melodrama of Hollywood proportions set in a fictional, southwest Pennsylvania farming town called McKinley. Having grown up in a small, rural town in Pennsylvania and spent my share of time working in fields, I was impressed with the cinematography that presents McKinley as I've experienced my life exploring twisting rural roads, living at a slower pace, and having small businesses named after the folks who run them. I believed the exposition, though no one in the local dive bar is smoking despite ashtrays present at every table.
Matt Damon's character is a gas industry land man who is deployed to McKinley by his billion-dollar company, Global Crosspower Solutions, to sign leases with local residents to allow shale gas drilling on their land. Shale drilling employs a process commonly called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", where silica sand, chemicals, and millions of gallons of water are blasted down a well bore to break up deep rock layers to release methane and other gases to the surface. Ultimately, I was disappointed that few technical facts or images of drilling were presented in the film, despite the set location in and around Armstrong County where well pads, pipelines, processing plants, compressor stations, and access roads scar the landscape.
Knowing the Tennessee Pipeline is about to cut and dredge its way through my hometown across the Delaware River, bisecting gas leased land and eminent domained properties, this plot hit home for me. Ironically, Promised Land State Park here in Pike County has a hunting camp in the middle that's leased to Chesapeake Energy. If the Delaware River basin, drinking water for 15 million people, is finally opened to drilling and if the state park was leased by the governor, over 3,000 acres would be opened for development near my childhood home. I can't fathom the kind of disrespect for our rural heritage the gas industry landman, not unlike Damon's character, must have, who looked at a place like that and pictured a future chemical-laden industrial site.