Fracking film debuts nationwide and in the Valley, fueling debat - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Fracking film debuts nationwide and in the Valley, fueling debate over the issue

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BOARDMAN, Ohio - The controversial shale boom that's becoming part of the landscape in the Mahoning Valley has now hit the big screen.

The movie "Promised Land" is a big screen drama that has similarities to the fierce debate about hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas that is actually playing out right here in the Mahoning Valley.

Members of FrackFree Mahoning Valley, and others opposed to the fracking process, were among the first to view the Matt Damon film.

Patti Gorcheff and her husband David were actually extras in the film and hope it will spark a national conversation about the horizontal drilling process.

Patti Gorcheff of FrackFree Mahoning Valley says, "My main concern is that people think they sign a lease and that's the end of it. It's not. The wells are just the first assault, and they're going to be coming through with the pipelines."

Patti's husband, David Gorcheff, also with FrackFree Mahoning Valley tells 21 News, "We want the truth to come out and people to be aware of what's happening around us."

As the horizontal drilling phase ramps up in Columbiana, Trumbull and Mahoning counties, the movie brings to light some environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing that have been echoed here in the Valley over the past two years.

Some geologists admit there is room for some concern, but say fears about water contamination and long-term environmental problems so far have are not documented.

Dr. Jeffrey Dick, with the 21 News Shale Team says, "The environmental concerns are legitimate concerns. There's no doubt about that. The actual avenue by which contamination might occur that is something that is up to debate. But when you look at how the oil and gas industry operates as a whole, the real concern is spillage at the surface it's not the hydraulic fracturing process itself."

What may help answer questions in the ongoing fracking debate is a federal Environmental Protection Agency study requested by Congress two years ago. It's expected to address hydraulic fracturing and its potential impact to drinking water resources.

A 170 page progress report came out on December 21st, but did not release any findings.

The full report is due out in 2014.

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