Why is Haynesville: The Movie being trashed by the Huffington Post writer...

while they love some move titled 'Gasland' (, which I have not seen, but I don't profess to see all movies....has anyone on GHS seen it)?
Am I just too close to the subject to be objective?


Haynesville: A Filmmaker's Hunt for Obfuscation

Oil is growing scarcer and more expensive. The horrific gusher in the Gulf of Mexico is certainly not helpful. Coal remains dirty and polluting. Non-fossil energy won't be on-line big-time for decades. America is racing toward a devastating energy crisis -- wait!

There are voices proclaiming that a savior has been found in the backwoods of northwest Louisiana and eastern Texas. It's called the Haynesville Shale that contains 230 hundred trillion cubic feet of gas. The Haynesville Shale is the largest natural gas field in the United States, possibly in the entire world. Along with other heavy deposits of natural gas scattered around our country, America has an energy bridge from today's dying energy sources to the future's energy promise. We're saved! So they say.

I have a policy of not writing negative reviews except when there is something truly rotten at the heart of a film. Like a critical voice is missing, or essentially information is ignored, and the film obscures more than it reveals. A film not with mere flaws, but a film that is shameful. Such as this film.

Haynesville: A Nation's Hunt for Energy presents the Haynesville Shale as a beautiful win-win situation for America. Rural landowners will receive fat checks (some more than a million dollars) from energy companies for their mineral rights and Americans will receive an abundant energy supply to run their cars and heat their homes and operate their businesses. Isn't America blessed?

Directed by Gregory Kallenberg (Eating Levi), this documentary follows three Louisianans living in the midst of the drilling and financial bonanza boom of the Haynesville Shale. There is a single mother who is organizing landowners to maximize the selling price of their mineral rights to the energy companies. There is an African-American preacher who is planning to use his fat check to build a religious school. And there is a self-described "good old boy" who uses his money to retain the land that he dearly loves. In this film the blessed are, then, a woman, a minority, and a nice redneck.

Premiering in March at the prestigious South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, the gorgeous Paramount Theater was nearly packed, and the audience responded enthusiastically to the screening. This was not surprising since one of America's great challenges, acquiring plentiful energy, is presented as no problem.

But there are problems - problems that Haynesville ignores -- as does the US Government. Thanks to the spearheading efforts of Dick Cheney when Vice President in the Bush Administration, since 2005 natural gas drilling has been exempted from the Federal Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The laws enacted to protect us are not protecting us when companies drill for natural gas. Isn't it time for the Obama Administration to reverse this exemption? And isn't it time for some answers on natural gas drilling, especially when using the process of "fracking?"

We do know there can be more than 500 chemicals pumped into the ground when drilling for natural gas. We know that each well produces millions of gallons of chemical-laced waste water.

We do not know, however, where this water goes. We do not know the effect all these chemicals are having on Americans. We know there are documented cases of faucet water from wells near drilling areas exploding when lit with a match. There is documentation of high levels of methane gas, arsenic, aluminum, lead and other chemicals in the drinking water of residents. This is not at just one location, but throughout the country where there is "fracking." And we know the Environmental Protection Agency has no legal justification to conduct a full investigation, thanks to the efforts of the Bush Administration. .

Let's back up. So, what good is receiving a maximum price for the landowners if they come down with liver problems and spend the rest of their lives shuffling from one doctor to another? What good is all this money if children in the Christian School get cancer? What good is the money if the "good old boy" suddenly cannot walk the land he so dearly loves?

Haynesville rolls out a long line of environmental experts, but they're culled from a narrow group with a narrower viewpoint. They avoid serious discussion about potential health effects of natural gas drilling, which is being hotly debated from Pennsylvania to Utah. Yes, America needs new sources of energy, and America needs to avoid more environmental disasters. We know this, right? This is not the mid-20th century! Environmental dangers exist!

Financial fairness to landowners is only a slice of the story about natural gas drilling in America, and not the main story. That alternative non-fossil energy sources are not presently capable of feeding energy sucking America and coal is not a good alternative to oil does not mean we should run blindly into natural gas drilling and ignore health issues. To minimize, marginalize, and ignore environmental dangers is to play Russian roulette with our lives and the lives of our children, possibly even our grandchildren.

As Haynesville rightfully points out, every action has its costs. But we need to know those costs. And we need to know the costs before we pay the price. Americans strongly supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq until they learned the cost in blood and money. Americans did not oppose the use of asbestos in construction until they learned asbestos was a carcinogen. Small American towns whole-heartedly supported the arrival of Super Wal-Marts until their cozy main streets turned into deserted streets.

Focusing on only benefits and ignoring costs is a corruption of cost-benefit analysis that is the basis of rational decision making. If we do not know the costs, then we don't know the actions we are asked to bless.

Where there should be caution in this film, there is sunny optimism. Where there should be concern, there is talk about monetary benefits. Where there should be balance, there is one-sidedness. Where there should be a robust discussion, there is silence. This film does a great disservice to Americans. This is a film, then, worthy of a negative review.

I do not know if natural gas drilling is truly dangerous, but I know that being unaware of potential dangers is extremely dangerous. If there is one film you should not see this year, it is Haynesville: A Nation's Hunt for Energy. Instead, you should begin your own hunt for the truth about natural gas drilling. I assure you that it will be more fruitful than watching this film.

And in your investigation, you may want to watch an excellent, insightful film that does explore the potential negative effects of natural gas drilling, Gasland.


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Replies to This Discussion

This critic declares that the film is shameful in the third paragraph, then in the second to last paragraph states not knowing if ng drilling is truly dangerous. I'd call that a shameful criticism, and self-contradictory. We, on the other hand, DO know about cattlegate, and the well blow-outs that killed rig workers, the recent evacuation on Norris Ferry Rd. and of course there's the GOM mishap (I'm being reserved using that term because I still want to get uglier than ugly at this point).

Hey, he says he wants to see robust discussion. Can someone please send him an invite to this site?

Reply by sesport 36 minutes ago
This critic declares that the film is shameful in the third paragraph, then in the second to last paragraph states not knowing if ng drilling is truly dangerous. I'd call that a shameful criticism, and self-contradictory.

Kinda like Obama not reading the new Arizona statute before condemning it?
Here, intrepid, a reality check for ya'.


Now, any thoughts about the movie or what this critic said about it?

The reviewer panned the film
bc it comes across as a PR campaign for HS gas E&P and did not critically look even at it's own subject ( landowners do well and E&P makes a fortune).

And, he uses the film to point out the obvious--drilling and fraccing are not 100% safe and clean

but the writer also uses the SXSW audience response in an interesting fashion--great audience reaction shows the hunger of the people for an alternative to oil.

In short, the writer used the film as a stepping off point to caution against the notion of a panacea because the film does offer HS precisely as such. While that is obvious to some, the average person who has never had any contact with E&P wouldn't know of the underlying negatives, whether the sheer quantum of water used, the issue of disposal, and the fact frac fluids are "secret formulas" of highly toxic
chemicals that can kill and as we all know DO kill.

The film gets national attention by the review. And rightfully, the imperfections of HS E&P production, which were wholly omitted from the film, are brought out to the open by the review. Pretty clever approach to a serious subject. We who benefit must be careful not just to become haynesville shale lemings.
Interesting analysis.
I personally see them both as different movies.
So I find the basic premise of comparing apples to oranges wrong.
Haynesville , to me, I saw as a people piece, the story of the drama, the lease, the lifestyle. It was not to be an environmental piece, thus a few words are given to that topic, but not a majority of the film.
The other movie is focused on the environmental issues and dangers.
There is nothing wrong with either, I just don't like trying to slam one for the other since the audience is different.
As for being a leming: I am not a leming. I have researched online, offline, hired attys, watched more than one documentary and am aware of many dangers. The negatives from wyoming, colorado and texas. E&P runs roughshod over folks when they don't educate themselves, or even concsult somone other than the one approaching them for their signature. Let's face it though, those that may be lemings will probably not view either movie.
I admit it, I am a LO, and I want my land drilled. Safely, without accident, with minimal disruption and damage to my land, but ultimately I want it drilled.
I am realistic enough to know that just by that, there is risk.
I won't be afraid of the gas E&P boogey man, because he does not exist.
You are inferring that the people of NW LA are not smart enough to make informed decisions and protect themselves. That they may fall into being 'lemings', I am offended by the inference.
As I was in the Huffington article about the blanket 'redneck' remark. It is physically impossible for me to have redneck, I live and was born and raised in a different area of the country, I found that remark in the other article offensive also.
Interesting the reviewer could let the other movie stand on it's own, he had to bring the other into his review. Wasn't the other movie good enough to stand on its own? I am sure it is, why bring up the other at all?
what part of "We who benefit must be careful not just to become haynesville shale lemings" led you to conclude that anyone was called a leming or "not smart enough to make informed decisions . . .?" Don't re-write what I wrote to suit your agenda.
When life give us lemings, sometimes we just have to make lemingaid, you know? "Can't we all get along?" King 3/3/91 lol
Don't sweat it VSC. For one thing the Huffington post is a notch below the National Enquirer when it comes to journalism. They’re nothing but a bunch of east coast intellectual hacks, who think their Ivy league education somehow endears them to being smarter, than you and I. The one thing Harvard can’t teach them is common sense.
Bob Kavanar (sp) writes for the Huffington Post. Don't think you'd name-call him.


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