The Oscar nominations came out recently, leaving a number of people feeling a bit snubbed. I can see how Skyfall didn’t get a best picture nod, because the Academy generally doesn’t like giving awards to films that people are actually willing to pay to see. But the real shocker was the absence of the Matt Damon vehicle, Promised Land. It had everything that the glitterati of Hollywood love. It managed to tug at liberal heartstrings by providing yet another almost entirely baseless, fact free attack on the natural gas industry, showing how fracking would destroy the land and ruin the lives of the good, simple people living on it. (Disclosure: no, I couldn’t bring myself to sit through it. I had to be satisfied by reading numerous reviews.)
The story goes back to the well – pun intended – with numerous, long discredited claims about the process, particularly how it will poison all of the ground water. This is an odd myth for opponents to cling to, particularly since one of the greatest eco-warriors of this generation, Barack Obama’s own EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, has publicly stated on at least two separate occasions now that her agency has yet to investigate one single instance where hydraulic fracturing was proven to cause chemicals to enter ground water. But it makes for a great story, doesn’t it? And one can understand how opponents of natural gas production would want to see a movie based on this premise enshrined with a nice trophy.
Meanwhile, back in the only slightly less fictional land of Washington, D.C. certain Democratic Senators are trying to squelch a DOE study which supported the idea of expanding US exports of natural gas. Any move like that which might move us closer to being a major exporter of energy would be a terrible embarrassment to the green lobby, and who knows what catastrophic effect all of those extra American jobs would have on the economy?
To be fair here, there are valid concerns about an expanding market for natural gas moving prices for it upward in response to market demand. But the government’s own study indicates that these would be short term in nature and production would continue to expand to fill the void. (Well, assuming state governments like those in New York don’t continue to shut it down for political reasons.)
But it’s not just Democrats who have apparently been watching Damon’s movie a few too many times. Republicans have gotten swept up in the fever as well. In New Jersey, State Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R – 13) has introduced a bill to put yet another freeze on fracking just as the Garden State is crawling back out from under the damage done by Sandy toward a recovery path. Virginia chimes in with the Rockingham County’s Board of Supervisors (composed of four Republicans and one Democrat) who managed to shut down an application for natural gas exploration on their turf. In Pennsylvania, one of the most productive natural gas states in the nation, State Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R-10) helped to push through a five year moratorium on the area he represents.
The madness hurts our brains, Precious. It does.
But enough of that, and back to Hollywood. Even for all the flaws, I suppose I’m glad that Promised Land got all the attention it did, though not an Oscar. Having it out there keeps the conversation and the education efforts alive. And somehow I think Matt Damon’s ego will survive this crushing blow.