Appalachian Basin

Where Is Jason Bourne When We Need Him?

Promised Land is another weak plot movie geared toward sending a politically correct message.  That message is based on false information and naive goals, not to mention a lack of courage in addressing real energy issues facing our nation.  We could use a real Jason Bourne about now.

Matt Damon played a killer con man in a movie called The Talented Mister Ripley.  In his new movie, Promised Land, Mr. Damon plays a conflicted gas company landman selling leases to folks in a small town. Through an improbable plot twist, he comes to see the error of his ways. Fade to Redemption. That’s the movie.

It’s the story behind the movie that’s the real killer con in Promised Land, though.


Jeffrey Skoll – Worth $3.3 Billion

Promised Land was financed by Abu Dhabi, one of the oil rich United Arab Emirates, and Jeffrey Skoll, the uber-greenie billionaire (134th richest man in the U.S.) who funded the global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth. What unites these strange bedfellows is a mutual fear of shale gas. Abu Dhabi fears shale because of competition in global gas markets; Mr. Skoll because it buries wind and solar for the foreseeable future. Together they funded a Hollywood agitprop piece. Fossils and renewables can then walk into the sunset hand in hand … because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Given an unholy alliance like this, the story can only go one way. Hyrofracking shale will poison our land. Cows die, the earth is “scorched.” Direct quote, by the way. Implication: humans next.

Well, cows have died. Four years ago 17 cows in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, wandered into an open flowback retention pit near a gas well, drank the water, and died. The story was picked up by Reuters, promoted by the antis, and went viral. Four years later, it continues to be referenced and is only slightly fictionalized in Promised Land.

Let’s put this into context.

It’s the DEC’s job to study such incidents, assess the risk, and enact regulations to protect us. That’s what they’ve been doing for 4 ½ years, studying best practices from other gas producing states, and creating the most stringent regulations in the nation. The result: no flowback retention pits in New York. Gas wells in New York will employ closed-loop systems (see page 75).

The con job in Promised Land is in its implications that the worst case scenarios are ordinary, even inevitable. This is the antis’ most potent and fundamental lie. The gullible are conned (Hey, it’s on the internet … and Matt Damon made a movie about it) but applying in general to what is incidental (and currently mitigated) just isn’t true.

These lies have a purpose. They are generated by people who have either an ideological or financial interest in renewable energy. God bless ’em. May their wind and solar dreams come true some day. But don’t hold your breath.

Wind generates less than one-half of one percent of the total energy needed to power the modern world. (Global Warming Policy Foundation).  Solar’s contribution is even less. Bad enough, but the world’s need for power isn’t static, in fact it’s expanding.

Excluding power for the transportation sector (mainly oil), the last two and half decades have seen the world’s electricity consumption increase over 450 terawatt-hours per year.  A terawatt-hour is one trillion watt-hours. For perspective, the increase is almost equivalent to adding one Brazil (485 terawatts) per year to world consumption. The total worldwide production of wind power today is 437 terawatts. Just to keep up with current growth, we would have to install as much wind generation as exists today (plus a couple of terawatts) … EVERY YEAR! (Wall Street Journal).

It’s not going to happen.

The gullible think it can. The cynical just keep gobbling up government subsidies to stay on the gravy train. Germany and Spain now realize these subsidies are unsustainable. They can’t afford it. The USA, unfortunately, seems to be doubling down.

Promised Land missed all that. It settles for the simple — Evil Corporation against Noble Individual. In doing so it misses the real conflicts going on in our towns and villages with neighbor against neighbor, talking points over talking, and accusations replacing reasonable accommodation. But, of course, capturing that would take some real writing (Mr. Damon gets writing credits. Hey, he’s Matt Damon) and a lot more research.

It would also take courage. Instead of the easy pieties he can pass off chatting with fellow celebs on the red carpet at the Academy Awards (Promised Land had a timely launch with the Academy in mind) Mr. Damon might have had to come up with a harder truth — natural gas is our bridge to our future.

Jason Bourne might have had the courage to make that call. Mr. Damon doesn’t.


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