Karl Mattson doesn't come across as a typical eco-activist.
Born and raised in B.C.'s Peace River country, the quiet and shy farmer is the hero of a film being released in March. Trouble in the Peace, directed by Julian T. Pender, takes a deeply personal look at the impact of oil and gas development in one of Canada's most beautiful watersheds.
The David Suzuki Foundation is also concerned about development in the Peace River region. A study released by the Foundation in December 2012 found 16,267 oil and gas wells, 28,587 kilometres of pipeline, 45,293 kilometres of roads and 116,725 kilometres of seismic lines packed into the region. If laid end to end, the roads, pipelines and seismic lines would wrap around the planet an astonishing four-and-a-half times.
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In Trouble in the Peace, the Mattson family farm is surrounded by flaring natural gas pumps and pipelines just beneath the soil. When a two-headed calf is born on his farm around the same time as his daughter, Karl begins to worry about the health impacts of repeated sour gas leaks beside his home and throughout his community. He starts to document and film the concerns in his community, believing in the importance of bearing witness to what is happening. When someone starts bombing gas lines, tensions in his community rise and Karl decides it's time to make a more public statement about his fears.
And those fears are legitimate. According to a visual report compiled by the David Suzuki Foundation last fall, increasing the production of liquid natural gas in B.C. can only happen through fracking. This extraction process leads to increased land disruption, water usage and carbon emissions. If B.C. decides to export natural gas to Asia, the problems on Karl's farm and in the Peace Region will get worse, not better.
To read more about the concerns of oil and gas development in the Peace River Region go to:
- Atlas of land cover, use and changes in the Peace Region
- The cost of exporting liquid natural gas
- Is natural gas a climate change solution for Canada?
Trouble in the Peace will be screening in the following locations across the country:
- Vancouver at Vancity Theatre, March 1-6
- Toronto at Bloor Theatre as part of Doc Soup March 6-7 and at the Royal Theatre March 8-10
- Check the website for information on screenings in Ottawa, Montreal and Calgary