Triple Divide – A documentary Film by The Public Herald

TRIPLE DIVIDE  is a new documentary film that lights the shadows about America’s quest for energy, where Paradise Found meets the visible hand of natural gas development.

Potter County, Pa. (focus of the film) is home to a geological phenomenon called the Triple Divide, one of five widely-recognized in the United States where water drains into three different basins. The headwaters of this Triple Divide are ecological sanctuaries for all things living deep in Appalachia, and provide drinking water for millions of people downstream.

The natural gas industry is tapping the Marcellus Shale in the north eastern U.S., beneath the landscape of Potter, and promising America a new dream of energy independence and economic prosperity. In the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds, this modern-day Gold Rush is filling pockets.

Via personal stories, interviews and investigative reports we arrive at two roads of paradise: cheap energy to boost the economy, and a sacred path of life-sustaining resources.


Here, we discover the beginning of a natural gas drilling boom, where companies use the controversial method ‘hydraulic fracturing’ and horizontal drilling to crack Marcellus Shale 4000 feet or more underground.

Potter is positioned to set precedent for model legislation, via the Clean Streams Law, for how natural gas development will be regulated in the state’s most sensitive waterways.

This north central region of Pennsylvania is sacred for what its environment offers to those downstream of the Triple Divide, but some fear that outdated legislation from the Oil and Gas Act will allow for its inherent value to be sacrificed; or that it already has.

How Pennsylvania deals with sensitive areas such as these will affect many outside the state. The Genesee River, for example, starts at the Triple Divide in Potter County but provides sustainable tourism economy and drinking water for hundreds of thousands living along the river as it flows north through upstate New York to the city of Rochester, where it dumps into Lake Ontario.

Already families struggle to deal with the impacts, often afraid to discuss their situations for fear of the gas companies retaliating by ceasing delivery of fresh water, or worse, a lawsuit. Read “Drinking Dimock: A Glass Full of Gas Water.”

Others watch their land and 50-year old hardwoods being stripped away — taken over for drilling when they don’t own the mineral rights, still responsible for property taxes where they fear no one will ever want to buy. Read “Property Owner Loses Land to Gas Driller on ‘Split Estate’.

The gas industry is supporting the state by funding studies and remedial work when an where pollution may occur. Read “Chesapeake Energy Helps Pennsylvania Afford Study of Natural Gas Blowout.” But not all studies are without a conflict of interest. Read “Chesapeake energy Misinformed Shareholders About Impact of Well Blowout.

The industry pours tens of thousands into public relation campaigns every week to educate and promote this production as safe and beneficial.

Chesapeake Energy Ad circulating in local papers »

As the industry encroaches an uncertain future hangs in the balance.

Over 90% of this film has already been documented as part of our ongoing investigation into the Natural Gas Industry on the east coast of the United States, which includes:

Please Click here to help us produce the last pieces of this story’s puzzle*, complete the final months, days and hours of post-production work, hire an editor and sound designer, obtain archive footage to fill out the film, create marketing collateral, and move the film throughout festivals and into the international marketplace

*Our actual goal for this film is over $20,000.

For sharing your support, we have some great rewards, including original music and artwork by artists helping with the film.

***Anyone who does not use the internet for payments can send donations to the address below (and if you include a request for an award we’ll be sure to send it to the return address):

The Public Herald — 2350 Cleveland Rd —Sandusky, OH 44870

The Public Herald’s mission is to empower the voices of community who face challenging conditions through engaging investigative journalism and multimedia projects. We are particularly focused on amplifying voices who are overpowered by bigger and louder ones – by government, industry, or social and environmental circumstance.

Triple Divide is created by Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman, co-founders of The Public Herald. Read more about them on the Public Herald’s website.

“If everyone had the same spirit as The Public Herald more great reporting would be funded.” David Cohn (creator of, now part of American Public Media)