A new Hollywood movie written by and starring Matt Damon is set to draw renewed attention to the fracking debate in the US.
Promised Land is released in the States next week and focuses on a gas company salesman looking to buy drilling rights in a small farming community and a local school teacher who launches a campaign in opposition.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, pumps high pressure liquids into the fissures in rocks to release shale gas.
The rapid expansion of shale gas in the US has created jobs and improved the country’s energy security but opponents are concerned over the effect on local water supplies. There are also concerns around methane leaks at drill sites that would contribute to climate change.
While the film’s stars, including the Damon, an ardent environmentalist, have gone to great lengths to stress that the story is not an anti-fracking polemic, as the basis of its plot it is likely to stir debate.
The documentary Gasland has been heavily criticised for linking its most famous scene, of a man setting his methane contaminated tap water on fire, with fracking.
The methane was in fact seeping naturally into local water supplies, a fact verified by state officials who were aware of the problem prior to the documentary.
The industry responded with a rebuttal movie called Truthland, which features a man in New York state, where fracking is banned, lighting his tap water on fire too.