Promised Land – The Movie vs. Reality

Matt Damon has made some pretty doggone good movies in his career — Oceans 11, Good Will Hunting, and the Bourne trilogy make for some enjoyable downtime viewing, for sure. And you have to like Matt’s Water Project organization bringing clean drinking water to third world countries. Good stuff.

“Promised Land” is not good stuff.  It’s not even passable stuff. The movie-going public must agree as it has disappeared from theaters in less than a month after grossing about half of its relatively modest production budget of $15,000,000. Hmmm……$15,000,000 is about what it costs to bring a horizontal well in these days, isn’t it?

Promised LandI’d much rather have the wells. Certainly the wells would be more productive than the second anti-fracking works after the “documentary” (quotes for emphasis) Gasland funded by HBO that aired a few years ago. I missed the answer to Gasland, which aired a few evenings ago on AXS. Frack Nation promises to put some evidence and statistics about Fracking on display. Can’t wait for the DVD.

Cliches abound in Promised Land. Evil, big energy, dumb Pennsylvania farmers (or hicks, if you prefer), the pretty school marm, the local anti-fracking retired-scientist-teaching-high school, beautiful countryside to be despoiled by greed, on and on. Even the landman Matt Damon plays is a cliché-the good man conflicted by conscience.

But I gotta wonder why Matt is out in the field obtaining leases after being promoted to vice-president of land development for a “9 billion dollar” energy company. Obviously, he doesn’t delegate well.

Only the inevitable hip, caring, outside environmentalist is interesting; and becomes so only when his true identity is shoveled to the mildly bumbling Damon.

Oh, and the film is at least partially financed by an Abu Dhabi company. OPEC is many things, but not dumb. Fracking is bad for OPEC. They can no longer afford, as they did in the mid-80’s, to drive the price of oil low enough to crater U.S. energy production. Abundant oil and gas in North America is bad for the middle east.

There are many things that can be argued in North American extractive industries. Fracking may be one of them. Rural road maintenance, frack water source and disposal are a few that I can think of off the top of my head.

Groundwater contamination is probably off the table, despite the picture painted in Promised Land. Real evidence of groundwater contamination seems awfully hard to find by Arkansas, Pennsylvania and the EPA, among other agencies looking real hard.

In researching the background of Promised Land, I found that the original evil energy project was supposed to be wind turbines, but the producers thought fracking would have more punch.

Frankly, big ugly wind turbines are noisy, have a tendency to kill birds (eagle included), and produce expensive subsidized electricity only part of the time seems a better target.

Maybe Abu Dhabi and OPEC don’t have a problem with wind power.

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