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Truthland plays Beach Lake; 100 turn out for the anti-Gasland movie

By Fritz Mayer
July 3, 2012

The power of director Josh Fax’s movie Gasland is apparent in the publicity materials for its pro-drilling counter-part Truthland. That film, which had a screening at the Beach Lake Fire House on June 19, according to the movie’s website, owes its very existence to Gasland, and the questions it raised in the mind of would-be lease-holders everywhere.

The person at the center of the film is Pennsylvania retired teacher and farmer Shelly DePue, who after seeing Gasland was so concerned about getting at the truth, that mimicking Fox himself, she set off in her car seeking out experts and just plain folks to find out if drilling and fracking can be done safely. She had a lot of help in producing her 34-minute documentary from the pro-drilling organizations Energy In Depth and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

In a phone interview, DePue seemed to be just what she claimed to be: a concerned wife and mother who wanted to know if it was a good idea to sign a gas lease and allow drilling on the farm that has been in the family since 1890. The family did sign a lease, and now has a well. She said the process for her has been positive, and the gas started flowing on her farm near Montrose in January. She said there was one little hic-up: when the crew began drilling they hit a shallow pocket of gas that was investigated, but it caused no real problem and now the well is producing without incident.

Many of the experts interviewed in the film are already known for their positive outlooks regarding drilling and fracking, such as Dr. Terry Engelder, Professor of Geosciences at Penn State University and John Hanger, the former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

In any case, the film seems to be accomplishing its goal, at least in part. At the screening in Beach Lake, more than 100 people showed up according Michelle Stahl, who is on the executive committee of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance. She said, “It was excellent, we had a great turn-out of folks, and they asked good questions, we had no trouble whatsoever. We had a good panel of people to provide answers to those hard questions, and the folks were very happy with the film and the panel of experts.

She added, “The negative news that you’re hearing, people want to know the truth and find out the science behind it.”