Jon Bowermaster’s new film Dear President Obama is essentially an open letter to President Obama asking him to start taking climate change seriously and put an end to his “all of the above” energy policy.
Throughout the film, the audience is reminded of just how difficult this will be to accomplish due to the state of politics and policy polarization in America.
Gasland director Josh Fox is featured at various points in the film, and he gets to the heart of the matter in one of his comments saying, “We are not living in a democracy at the current time and the oil and gas industry has a lot to do with that.”
Later a woman from Pennsylvania reiterates this point saying, “It is our elected officials. They turned their backs on us. That is who I blame first. Because they allowed it.”
However, the most telling comment is from Rod from Longmont, Colorado, a farmer seen onscreen feeding his chickens when he says, “I’ve been told by my Congressman Jared Polis, he came out and…you know what he told me? It’s time to sell out.”
Of course, many of the politicians in America have already sold out to the oil and gas fracking industry so they speak from experience when talking about selling out.
Politicians like Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper who is also featured in the film — at a press conference where he is announcing he is suing local municipalities who had banned fracking within their communities. Surely a governor suing his own constituents on behalf of oil and gas companies is an example of selling out.
We Don’t Frack the Rich
As recently covered on DeSmog, industry executives have admitted that they don’t frack next to wealthy communities who can fight the required legal battles to stop the industry.
Throughout Dear President Obama, the viewer gets plenty of examples of people talking about how helpless they are against the vast resources of the industry. Like how fracking operations in lower income neighborhoods in California continue despite the health issues of the surrounding residents — and yet no one has been relocated like the people of Aliso Canyon were during the recent methane leak. The residents in both areas had the same symptoms, just not the same income.
Of course, wealthy people donate to politicians.
Obama’s Oil and Gas Legacy
Jon Bowermaster previously made Dear Governor Cuomo, a film with a similar approach that urged the Governor to ban fracking in New York. That officially happened in 2015 after years of activism — and that fight is featured in this current film.
However, in this new film there are several clips highlighting President Obama basking in applause while talking about the amount of oil that has been drilled during his administration and how America is the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” It would appear that influencing the president might be a heavier lift than it was with Governor Cuomo.
The film ends on a positive note, highlighting the growth of renewables in America and talking about the very real possibility of a clean energy revolution.
But with time running out on the Obama administration, the reality is that the revolution he has overseen has been one of shale oil and gas — driven by the huge growth of fracking during his two terms.
Much like the message of the film, a recent petition to the President asked for “a halt to all new oil, coal, and natural gas leasing on public lands and seabeds.” It was denied this week.
Which unfortunately provides the short-term answer to the question posed by one cowboy featured in the new film when he asks, “Drill baby drill. When do you quit? When it is all a parking lot?”
This president shows no signs of wanting to quit when it comes to drilling for oil and gas in America.
Hold A Houseparty, See the Film, Hear from Mark Ruffalo
On May 24, you can hold a house party to see the film and participate in a Skype discussion with the film’s narrator, actor and activist Mark Ruffalo.