Fracking Faces New Public Scrutiny With Movies

Will 'Promised Land' Change Tone of National Conversation?

Controversial: B’nai B’rith’s Perlman Camp in Lake Como, Pa. signed a lease to allow fracking on its land.
courtesy of b'nai b'rith
Controversial: B’nai B’rith’s Perlman Camp in Lake Como, Pa. signed a lease to allow fracking on its land.

By Reuters

Published December 24, 2012.
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The original film featured scenes of tap water erupting into flames and mobilized environmental groups against fracking, drawing full-throated rebuttals from an oil industry that says the process has never caused water problems.

Fox declined comment for this article.

Amid the showdown, both industry and anti-fracking camps have mounted major campaigns to sway hearts and minds.

“It could become the biggest environmental debate of our time,” said Robert McNally, an energy policy expert and former White House adviser under George W. Bush. “Hollywood is taking notice, and the industry will have its work cut out for it to defend fracking.”

Nearly four out of ten Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center early this year said they knew nothing about fracking. Other polls show most Americans familiar with the practice believe fracking offers economic benefits but requires tougher regulation.

This year, for the first time, U.S. online searches for the term “fracking” became more popular than “climate change,” Google data showed. Fracking has doubled on Google’s popularity index since last year, and while “global warming” still draws more hits, the gap is narrowing.

Drinking water contamination is the leading environmental concern among Americans, according to Gallup polling data. A Bloomberg National Poll this month showed that 66 percent of Americans want more fracking regulation, up from 56 percent in September.

‘POUNDING THE ZONE’

Whether “Promised Land” will shift public opinion is uncertain. But films with environmental themes often can, according to Joseph Cappella, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania.

Past examples include Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” on climate change, and “Erin Brockovich,” a dramatization of real events in which actress Julia Roberts played a legal clerk who uncovers water contamination by a California power company.


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