The new movie Promised Land is no fairy tale
Matt Damon film understates oil and gas company misbehavior, unintentionally highlights need for stronger oversight.
Jan 4 — The new film Promised Land — opening today — is bringing welcome attention to the issue of irresponsible oil and gas development. The sad truth is that Promised Land is no fairy tale.
The movie turns on the amoral and unethical behavior of a fracking/drilling company, and the landmen that try to convince citizens to lease their property for drilling.
We can tell you from experience that Promised Land understates the depths to which some companies are willing to stoop. In fact, fracking company representatives have told us so.
In 2011, at an industry conference intended to burnish the industry’s tarnished public image, our colleague Sharon Wilson recorded a “public relations” representative of a fracking company recommending the use of the U.S. Army’s counterinsurgency manual against American citizens. At the same conference, another industry PR rep boasted of their employment of ex-military psychological operations personnel and their use of psyops tactics in gasfield communities.
Promised Land is a cautionary tale and I encourage everyone to see it. It has top-notch actors, great dialogue, beautiful scenery, and a plot twist.
And then as you leave the theater, remember that in order to protect communities and the environment from the corporate behavior Promised Land shows, we need much stronger oversight of oil and gas development, from top to bottom. And that means, for a start, closing the loopholes in federal environmental laws that give the oil and gas companies an unfair advantage.
We need to be honest about the risks of oil and gas fracking, to our air, water and healthy communities. Our new year’s resolution is to give the story of communities faced with oil and gas drilling a happier ending.