Hydrofracking has always been a hotly debated issue in the Hudson Valley and across the state. This weekend it's receiving the Hollywood treatment with the opening of a feature film starring Matt Damon. YNN's Eva McKend spoke to both pro and anti-fracking groups about "Promised Land."
HUDSON VALLEY, N.Y. -- Like a white knight, Matt Damon’s character Steve Butler comes riding in to a struggling rural Pennsylvania town. A salesman for a natural gas company, Butler offers fracking as a way to provide a much needed source of revenue for the community.
It’s an all too likely scenario for the small towns in Sullivan County pending the outcome of the states proposed regulations, adding a Hollywood flare to an already dramatic issue.
“This movie is good in the sense that it shows a lot of people who haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on with gas drilling, the impact to a community and people’s lives,” said Wes Gillingham, Program Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper.
Promised Land doesn’t seem to be going over quite as well with pro-fracking groups. They caution the public to take the film for what it is: Entertainment.
“I have not seen the film. It’s not scientific analysis. It may continue to drive the wedge between those who approve or disapprove of natural gas development but we are taking the Governor and the DEC commissioner at their word that the decisions made in New York will be based on science," said Jim Smith, Spokesman of Independent Gas and Oil Association of New York.
But anti-frackers say gas drilling supporters have reason to worry.
“They are worried because in their case, the truth hurts and what they are saying, that there’s never been a case of contamination. They are trying to pull the wool over the American people’s eyes. It’s not working and it’s going to come back to bite them,” said Gillingham.
People who have seen the film have mixed opinions.
“What I brought away from the film most was that if fracking is going to continue, it should really be determined that it can be safe,” said Chester resident David Nurmy.
“It leaves a lot of opportunities to discuss and talk about it,” said Warwick resident Noreen Meehan.
“I think it reaffirmed my views on how detrimental it could be,” said Warwick resident Linda Card.
Whether you are pro or anti-fracking, movie goers say Promised Land adds a human component that brings even more passion to the debate.