POWDER RIVER COUNTRY
Length: 34 mins.
Purchase: $210 Classroom Rental: $55
From the peaks of Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains stretching northeast over eleven million acres, the Powder River Basin is a landscape of rolling hills, big skies, and subtle beauty, rich in the history of our American roots. Native Americans lived here for centuries. Custer made his last stand here. For nearly 200 years, generations of homesteaders have ranched and farmed these high plains. But now progress in the name of a new source for natural gas is transforming the remote region and the future of agriculture is uncertain.
Powder River Country looks at coal bed methane development and its impacts in Wyoming and Montana. Concerned citizens are playing catch-up to an industry on the development fast track while trying to protect the integrity of the Powder River Basin landscape. The 34 minute film documents the current situation and contentious issues surrounding the newly discovered coal bed methane (CBM) from ground zero of the globally-reaching boom. In a setting whose history is tightly intertwined with energy development, the rush for CBM and the havoc created in its wake is polarizing communities throughout the American West.
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Reviews“An excellent insight into the hidden costs of our headlong rush toward energy resource development… Powder River Country is a powerful introduction to the real present and future costs of coal bed methane production to residents of the Powder River Basin.” –Educational Media Reviews Online
"Zugel is working here on the model pioneered by High Plains Films' founder Doug Hawes-Davis with an eccentric soundtrak juxtaposed to action shots of drilling rigs and heavy equipment and aerial footage of wastewater ponds and gas development scattershot into what used to be empty rangeland. The power of the High Plains model, and the power here, is the human voice.” --NewWest.net
"Heartbreaking and poignant." --Steve Fesenmaier, West Virginia Library Commission
"All too often, short-term profits win out over long-term values. Such is the case in Powder River Country. This gripping documentary examines the devastating costs of coal bed methane production on otherwise unspoiled land and on the lives of unsuspecting, hard-working Americans." Timothy McGettigan, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, Colorado State University-Pueblo
"The film tells the story of concerned citizens trying to protect the Powder River Basin landscape from drilling and scarring that will lead to one year's supply of natural gas and the waste of billions of gallons of water." --Community Arts Network
Further Reading"In its own quiet way, there is hardly a landscape in America lovelier than the hills of northeastern Wyoming. The drama of that countryside is understated, except when the weather bears down hard. The Powder River Basin is also the most active region of coal-bed methane drilling in the nation, a place where in the next few years more than 50,000 wells will have been drilled to obtain, at most, a year's supply of natural gas." Read full article from the New York Times
"Driven by soaring prices, empowered by federal mining law and cheered on by the Bush administration, energy companies have been unstoppable in recent years as they march through the Rocky Mountain West searching for natural gas." Read full article from Washington Post