Matt Damon and Hollywood have a new enemy - a new villain--and some of the poorest people in America may end up losing out as a result.
Matt Damon and Jon Krasinski (nice guy Jim from NBC's The Office) have written and are starring in Promised Land, a movie about fracking.
Hydraulic Fracturing or "fracking" is a way of getting previously inaccessible oil and gas out of the ground. It means that North Dakota now produces more oil than most OPEC countries and has seen natural gas prices drop by a quarter because of a new glut of energy. This has happened in just five years, and the new fossil fuel boom has alarmed and angered every anti-American, anti-fossil fuel radical. And of course, Hollywood has now joined the cause.
Promised Land has decided that oil and gas companies are evil and that farmers who allow fracking on their land are fools. I learned that as the film was being made, Damon and Krasinski had to do some hasty rewriting of the script as a series of legal cases from environmentalists collapsed due to fraud.
Promised Land now has the "twist" that fraudulent environmentalists who lie and exaggerate about fracking are secretly in the pay of oil and gas companies in a dastardly plot to smear the mainstream environmental movement. Then it was revealed that funding for Promised Land came from the United Arab Emirates government - an OPEC country - that stands to lose billions if not a trillion dollars if fracking takes off across America.
Promised Land's producers have reacted defensively. They claim the movie is a "balanced look at the issues" and profess surprise that anyone could be so suspicious of a movie that has not yet been seen in public.
But Matt Damon has already made his views known about fracking and it's clear that he is not interested in balance.
Buried deep in the Internet is a video Matt Damon did in support of the New York-based Working Families Party.
At 00:42 Damon makes clear that fracking pollutes water. Period. There is no balance, no maybes. He knows it to be true, so therefore it is.
It doesn't matter that Lisa Jackson of the EPA does not agree, and that high profile cases of "water pollution" in Dimock, PA and Texas have collapsed with every scientist agreeing that the water was never contaminated.
Fracking has meant a boom to many rural communities. It may revitalise American manufacturing and bring in an era of cheap clean energy. It has one of the best safety records of any industrial process. But for Matt Damon and Hollywood this does not matter. They believe what they believe and the facts about fracking must be twisted to reflect their beliefs.
And they wonder why people have stopped going to the movies.
Phelim McAleer is the director of FrackNation a forthcoming documentary about Fracking.