The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 5, 2013

Matt Damon's "Promised Land" clashes with pro-fracking ad

(Continued)

The on-screen ad being showed in 75 percent of Pennsylvania theaters lasts 16 seconds and refers the audience to an industry-sponsored website, www.learnaboutshale.org, for "a community conversation on natural gas." It's sponsored by the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition industry group.

Chris Tucker, a spokesman for the Washington-based drillers' group Energy in Depth, said it's being deliberately restrained, as it doesn't want to pick a fight with Damon or offer a detailed critique of a work of fiction. That contrasts with its attempts to rebut Josh Fox's Oscar-nominated 2010 documentary "Gasland," which showed a homeowner living near a fracking site setting fire to water from his kitchen tap.

" 'Gasland' lends itself to rebuttal and correction in a way that 'Promised Land' does not," Tucker said in an interview. At an industry conference in November, Tucker said the "Promised Land" script showed Damon defending fracking for two-thirds of the movie, "and he does a pretty good job of it."

Tucker's group created a site featuring local landowners, RealPromisedLand.org. "On this site, you won't find any actors, scripts or manufactured storylines," Energy in Depth said on the site, which doesn't specifically mention the movie or Damon. "What you will find here is real people, with real stories, about how development has impacted them and their families.

''These aren't stories you're likely to see out at the movies," it said. "But we think they're pretty remarkable, just the same."

Proponents of the drilling practice in Armstrong County, Penn. — where the movie was filmed — expressed disappointment with the movie's tone on Facebook.

Mike Knapp, vice president for land at MDS Energy Development, which is based in the western Pennsylvania county, said the movie sets up a false dichotomy.

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