Triple Divide: Fracking Documentary Premieres

Public Herald investigative journalists Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman announce the official World Premiere of their debut documentary, Triple Divide, Saturday, March 9, 2013 at the historic Coudersport Theatre, 11 North Main Street, downtown Coudersport, Pennsylvania.

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Triple Divide deconstructs the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) handling of shale gas development. Touted as a modern day gold rush for landowners, the controversial technology of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) shatters shale formations to release trapped fossil fuel resources.

Pribanic and Troutman take audiences on a cradle-to-grave journey to uncover how DEP and industry have handled violations within Pennsylvania’s highest classified watersheds, what happened in the 2011 Bradford County Blowout, water contamination complaints, health issues, and the split-estate landowner dispute.  

After being accosted by contractors for Seneca Resources in Tioga State Forest during production of the film — an event  shared in the chapter “Ecoterrorism” — Troutman knows all too well how contentious the issue of fracking is. “Americans have been told from the beginning of this boom, which has already been a bust for many, that there will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers.’ I firmly believe that whether ‘winner’ or ‘loser,’ everyone is entitled to the same fundamental rights of ‘Liberty and Justice, for All.’ When it comes to shale gas extraction and development, that’s not happening.”

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“Of the 5 films I have seen on fracking (Split Estate, Gasland, Promised Land, Fracknation, Triple Divide) this one is the best at showing a slice of the all-too-real and desperate situation as it relates to water and fracking,” said Robert Donnan, who took part in a Pittsburgh test-screening in February.  

Triple Divide recently found a friend in Hollywood when critically-acclaimed actor Mark Ruffalo joined Troutman as co-narrator.

It’s name comes from Pennsylvania’s triple continental divide, one of only four in North America, giving birth to the Allegheny and Genesee Rivers, as well as Pine Creek — that joins the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. These three rivers flow to three separate sides of the continent: north to Lake Ontario, southeast to the Chesapeake Bay, and south west to the Gulf of Mexico. For Triple Divide, everything is downstream.

The film was shot and edited by Pribanic in his first feature length project. “Triple Divide is a clear example of how investigative reporting can unlock the moral deficiencies of an industry shrouded by the state. It’s a film to let the public know we are out there, ready and willing to tell the truth, to tell their story.”

Pribanic also points to the need for public accountability, quoting a shocking string of untold stories in the shale fields of PA. “I’ve been in conversations where parents without health insurance are experiencing water contamination after fracking and forced to ‘doctor up’ un-drinkable water using Kool-Aid for the children or coffee for adults. It’s criminal.”

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The Premiere of Triple Divide begins at 2:00 PM sharp. Both filmmakers, who also co-founded the investigative news non-profit Public Herald, will present the film and conclude after discussion at 4:00 PM. From there the audience is encouraged to enjoy dinner at one of several nearby restaurants and then a special live performance at The Crittenden Hotel at 7:30 PM.

Suggested donations at the doors. For clips of the film and more, visit www.tripledividefilm.org, and go to the Video page. Also, follow @PublicHerald on Twitter, or Facebook to stay informed about Triple Divide — and #TripleDivide for reference on twitter. 

About the author

Joshua Pribanic is Editor-in-Chief for publicherald.org, an investigative reporter, director, photographer, and permaculturalist. His debut documentary, Triple Divide, investigates how the impacts of fracking are being handled by the state and industry. Influences include Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, and ProPublica's Editor Paul Steiger. Follow on twitter: @jbpribanic

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