Just as Public Herald journalists, Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic, brought the results of their investigative study to the screen, the editorial touted talking points delivered by Governor Corbett on a recent visit to Erie. He was hoping to persuade voters that his job creation record is not as dismal as it seems (Pennsylvania has gone from 6th to 45th during his tenure despite the promise of Marcellus Shale jobs). Environmentalists are not “turning up their noses” at jobs in the natural gas industry for frivolous reasons. These teachers, doctors, farmers, business owners and families are concerned about mounting evidence that unconventional natural gas drilling affects the water we drink and the air we breathe. We have the right to clean water and clean air, which, by the way, is guaranteed in Section 1 Article 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Triple Divide moves beyond the sensationalism of Gasland with science, fact-based reporting and personal stories from Pennsylvania’s shale fields. The filmmakers and a former employee of a natural gas company, whose job was to mitigate and sometimes cover up “mistakes,” urged citizens to pay attention. Hold local media accountable for reporting all of the stories, not just those from gas industry insiders, they said.
Op-Ed by Jennifer Chesnut On Thursday an editorial appeared in the Erie-Times “Can Erie’s economy gain from fracking?” but failed to mention the impact fracking is having on the health of workers who fuel the economy. I'm a Canadian on holiday in Erie, and I attended a local showing of the investigative documentary Triple Divide — a film that documents Pennsylvanian experiences with fracking. Farmers, from places like Potter and Bradford Counties, shared stories of dangers they faced when exposed to waste or wastewater from fracking: such as fevers, rashes, and enlarged spleens. I don’t know much about Pennsylvanians, but you seem like a friendly bunch that extends kindness to strangers easily. After hearing the stories of your local people in Triple Divide, I have much worry for your farmers and the communities they serve. Some farmers expressed concern about the safety of their milk, when their cows got sick and drinking water wells showed high rates of carcinogens like methane, barium, strontium, and radon.
With high-profile activists like Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon taking a stand against fracking, the controversial drilling practice has been pulled from the periphery and placed in the public's main line-of-sight at a scale sparking movement from Hollywood. Promised Land, a film starring Matt Damon as a salesman for a natural gas company, hits theaters tonight, lending cinematic drama to the issue of fracking. While the large-scale exposure is valuable, Melissa Troutman, co-creator of another film on fracking, is careful to iterate an important fact, "Promised Land is a story, but this [Triple Divide] is a true story." Triple Divide, a documentary by Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman of Public Herald, carefully investigates the effects of fracking in the Marcellus Shale Region of Pennsylvania from the ground up, focusing its lens on the true accounts of neighbors who have lost their water well to contamination from drilling, and farmers, like the ones in Promised Land, who have lost their land to pollution from a nearby well pad. In their first live interview about the film, journalists Joshua and Melissa discussed Triple Divide and the impact of fracking with Stefanie Spear, Founder and Editor of EcoWatch, a news service designed to promote and build a community of grassroots environmental activism. You can watch the full interview above or at EcoWatch.
A compilation of video investigations gathered by The Erie Wire week-to-week every month. For more information on online investigative reports look to our “Investigative Newswire” feed uploaded in real-time on the bottom left of every page. If you have a story to contribute to these reports; please use the author’s email in the right column.