Truthland is a 30 minute mockumentary made by Energy in Depth as a rather belated rebuttal to Gasland. It will not open at a theatre near you any time soon, nor appear on HBO, nor be part of the Oscar buzz. Look for it on Comedy Central, probably around 3 AM. It is Exhibit A on why the gas industry’s credibility has become cheneyesque
Truthland “narrator” Shelley DePue was already having big problems with her own gas wells before the mockumentary was made. So many problems that she probably knew more about how gas wells leak than most of the “experts” she interviewed.
But Ms. DePue did not bother to mention the problems with her own leaking gas wells in the mockumentary. Strike 1.
And this fracking mockumentary is supposedly about how gas wells don’t leak. Ever. Even on the narrator’s property. Strike 2.
The way that “cigarettes don’t kill” . . . remember that one ?
The mockumentary was produced by a political attack ad agency. Strike 3. For the gas industry front group “Energy In Depth” Strike 4 And paid for by Chesapeake Energy, who owns the website “Truthlandmovie.com”. Strike 5
(When I think “truthful” I think “Aubrey McClendon” Don’t you ? )
It appears that Shelly DePue, who is indeed a farmer from rural Pennsylvania, is not all that “independent” after all.LittleSis has all the details but here are some juicy bits.
And despite her claim that environmental hazards are “unfounded” she experienced some on her own property.
Unfortunately, the environmental and health concerns about fracking that Truthland’s protagonist, Shelly DePue, determined to be “unfounded” after her trip have become a reality on her own property. In March, after a DePue neighbor outside Montrose, PA reported sludgy water and an “erupting” water well that was also determined to have unusually high methane levels, the Scranton Times-Tribune investigated and found that Tulsa, OK-based drilling company WPX Energy had been cited for environmental violations on multiple nearby wells in 2011, including on the Depues’ property, which they had leased to WPX (then Williams Production Appalachia) in July 2010. The violations were for “defective casing or cement … meant to protect aquifers [which contain drinking water] from gas and other fluids.”
Maybe DePue had to make this awful video before the frackers would clean up the mess on her land.
Either the knuckleheads at Energy In Depth didn’t not fact check Ms. DePue before they released Truthland in mid June, or they are even thicker than we ever imagined. Or both. Regardless, we now have yet another anti-Gasland bit of fracking propaganda, just in time for Gasland II. Yippee. The producers, Energy In Depth, are adept at warping the truthiness about fracking, because that’s what they’re paid to do.
Energy in Depth have given industry presentations on how to spin the media.
Including how to attack grass roots activists . . .
For some reason these fracking shills seemed particularly obsessed with Gasland – as if it were the new Silent Spring. So they have tried again to rebut it with a series of interviews with fracking apologists, camp followers and shale gas roulette winners. When you know that the interviewer’s own gas wells leak, the entire mockumentary reads as farce. So worth watching from that standpoint – as one big fracking joke.
John Hanger, former Pa. DEP commissioner, now fracking lawyer ? Hanger oversaw some of the worst fracking messes in the US. Including the gassing of the narrator’s neighbor’s water. (Perhaps this is how she met the DEP ?) He seems a bit uncomfortable mouthing the usual regulatory platitudes. He may have known the narrator, Ms. DePue, more intimately as “Bubbling Annulus #1845 ”
Still, he boldly repeats the Big Fracking Deception: “No instance of water pollution from fracking” And is rhetorically high-fived by the narrator, “Bubbling Annulus # 1845″ When that is not the case, as the narrator was aware when she posed the rhetorical question:
He says that shale gas drilling is “cleaner” that oil well drilling – meaning a vertical oil well drilling on land ? Nope. Not so. The narrator implies that she has not had shale wells put on her property – yet. When she had 10 – some of which had already leaked. Based on the location of her farm, in Susquehanna County, Pa. a dry gas well would not be economic at this time. But it would likely mobilize methane that will migrate into her groundwater and her neighbor’s groundwater. Which is what it in fact did – while the ad agency’s cameras were rolling elsewhere .
“400 Trillion Cubic Feet” Terry Engelder – is the uber apologist geologist of the Marcellus shale
Who overstated Marcellus shale gas reserves by 5X. This lead to a gross overstatement of the Marcellus potential in New York – until corrected by the USGS
And facilitated the financial scamming of Chesapeake, et al that overstated their reserves to hype their stock. Which provided the dough to fund fracking shills like “Energy in Depth” to make mockumentaries like Truthland. Starring apologist geologists, like Engelder, who got the Marcellus hype going. Such over-estimates of reserves are dependent on apologist geologists like Engelder.
Over-stating reserves to hype stock was outed by Deborah Rogers some time ago
He repeats another dodge - that there have been millions of fracks over 60 years. When those were predominately vertical wells – not horizontal shale gas wells. Like the kind that had just gassed narrator Shelley’s neighborhood big time. And horizontal shale gas wells are much more likely to cause environmental damage. Starting with the trucking involved . . .
Best bit of acting: Engelder mentions methane migration, and the narrator nods cryptically “unhuh” Meaning she can flambe shrimp in her sink, while washing them . . . Engelder graciously counsels someone how to escape the shale gas war-zone: move to Maine. (I get asked this too and I suggest Vermont – where fracking is banned and there is no shale gas . . . ). And he dances around the fact that shale gas wells vent methane into groundwater – like on Shelley’s farm
All over the world – even upside down . . .
Gary Hanson – apologist geologist/ fracking consultant (?) He refers to the frack studies on coal bed methane wells in the San Juan. And again focuses on the least likely risk – fracks going out of zone. He refers to thermogenic methane in the Duke methane study – but alleges that the methane was from coal mines. He appears to be referring to the Cabot “study” of methane in water in Susquehanna County – where the narrator’s farm is. Which “concluded” based on no post drilling water tests, that all the methane came up via faulting and fissures
Ignoring the occasional bubbling annulus – like Shelley had . . .
Elvis Bowman - Fort Worth Minister – “I Had a Dream – of Hitting a Big Fracking Gas Well”
When you cut through the rhetoric, this reads as an anecdote of a landowner who hopes to win the shale gas lottery. He alludes to “a very helpful City Councilman” that helped facilitate their permit. Because they would need an SUP to get a permit to drill a gas well in the city limits
Few if any of those Barnett Shale wells could be economic at the time TruthLand came out. So what he focuses on – their financial windfall – may or may not play out, with or without prayer. . .
All of the issues he mentioned – zoning, noise ordinances. etc. are addressed in the Fort Worth zoning ordinances. Pennsylvania has outlawed local controls over gas wells - no noise, no zoning, no nothing – frack anywhere . None of this was mentioned in the fracking mockumentary
And the narrator keeps mum about the problems she’s had with similar wells back home. Cuz she’s on a mission of truthiness.
Much ado about how much water there is to be trashed by fracking – as it that’s a good thing . . . (?!@?) Nothing about what happens to the water : it is contaminated if it comes back, if it does not come back, it’s lost. And there is no safe and economic way to deal with the flowback in New York state. Not road spreading., not dumping into municipal water treatment plants.
Chuck Sylvester – shale game roulette winner
If thermogenic gas is already in local water wells – then shale gas wells will likely mobilize more methane into wells. They are quite good at that – as the industry knows – and Shelley can vouch for personally – but cautiously demurs
Wanders a bit – antelope getting hit on the highway by people fleeing California ? Then goes on to praise Chickenhawk Cheney – who turned Halliburton into a no-bid defense contractor in Iraq. And fracked the EPA out of regulating gas wells. Sylvester’s hero: Chickenhawk Cheney, an infamous lying sack of flowback
Scott Roberts - yet another ex DEP regulator / fracking consultant ? A pattern here ?
Demos how multiple layers of casing “protect groundwater” - As if that is never a problem -when such a casing failure is what went wrong on the narrator’s property . She nods knowingly during the demonstration – having witnessed such failures first hand . . . in her backyard . No matter – all of that cement will eventually crack and mobilize gas and other pollutants up the aging wellbore. Into water wells, trout streams, rivers and ponds – first the gas, then the lighter-than-water fluids – right up the water in the hole. Just like it did on the narrator’s property and her neighbors property – and anyone else downstream
Even before the wells are abandoned
Walter Brooks – shale game roulette player. ”Gas Saved Our Ass” bumper sticker sums up Mr. Brooks’s views on the more pressing regulatory and environmental issues of the day. Which is not exactly the hole story.
Which concludes our intrepid adventurer’s quest for fracking truthiness – as a kind of misbegotten swift boat wannabe on Gasland. Almost guaranteeing that “Truthland” will be featured – for a belly laugh – in Gasland II . And that’s the fracking truth . . .
Fracking Industry’s Answer to “Gasland”: Devised by Astroturf Lobbying Group and Political Ad AgencyBy Ben • Jun 13, 2012 at 16:02 ESTStrategic Perception LLC’s Fred Davis, political attack ad man and producer of Truthland
Truthland, a 35-minute compilation of interviews with fracking proponents, is being promoted by the oil and natural gas industry’s PR arm, Energy In Depth, as an answer to the 2010 anti-fracking film Gasland. The advertising campaign for Truthland emphasizes that it documents the concerns of “a Susquehanna County mom, dairy farmer and teacher” who is “the real deal,” as opposed to Josh Fox, the writer and director ofGasland and “a spoiled avant-garde showman from New York City,” in the words of EID’s Northeast Marcellus campaign director, Tom Shepstone.
While the new film’s protagonist, Shelly DePue, is indeed a farmer from rural Pennsylvania, the notion that Truthland is a depiction of her independently-planned road trip around the United States to “find out just what the truth was” became less and less believable the more we examined it. Rather, the film and its “full-scale website and social media campaign” was planned from start to finish by the natural gas industry. Even its web domain, truthlandmovie.com, was registered by industry giant Chesapeake Energy.
(Apparently, this instance of funding transparency was not intentional – on June 12, the Whois listing for the Truthland domain was updated to remove “Chesapeake Energy Corporation” and replace it with “MFL Holdings, ATTN TRUTHLANDMOVIE.COM, care of Network Solutions.” Our cached version of the Chesapeake registration, above, is from June 8.)
The origin of Truthland as an industry PR campaign is confirmed by EID spokesman Chris Tucker’s presentation to a meeting of West Virginia oil and natural gas industry representatives in May. EID operates as an “astroturf” organization that keeps its substantial gas industry backing and orchestration hidden behind the names and faces of “locals” and “natives,” but in this case, they failed to sufficiently hide the degree to which its “authentic” Gasland response was planned at the highest level.
The EID planning document also reveals that Truthland was produced by Fred Davis, a prominent political ad maker who has filmed TV spots for George W. Bush and John McCain and was the leading strategist behind an inflammatory advertising campaign (“The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama”) prepared for the 2012 general election that attracted so much negative attention that Mitt Romney publicly distanced himself from its makers.
After first appearing on YouTube in the first week of June, Truthland was quickly withdrawn from the website when it began to pick up hits, alarming supportive viewers.On a natural gas-leasing web forum, a member claiming to represent the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York wrote that the film’s unveiling was the responsibility of “Susan Oliver a ‘communications consultant’ who lives in DC but has acreage in Bainbridge [in Chenango County, NY].” Like many professionals working for the natural gas industry, Oliver tries to keep her work in the PR industry (“Persuasive media relations pro intensely committed to victory”) hidden when it’s more useful to appear to be simply a“NY Marcellus Shale landowner”: