[Note: This review of "Split Estate" initially appeared with reviews of "What's the Economy for, Anyway" and "Tapped" -- the fourth of four sets of reviews for The Union newspaper.]
You can’t exactly blame the oil and gas corporations.It goes way back to the kings of England.The United States government, in its industry-strength wisdom codified it into our legal framework.
When the king wanted, say, the gold and silver on somebody’s land, he’d declare, “OK, you own the surface of the land.I own everything underneath.”“Split Estate,” the film is called.It shows us that, by law, corporations own underground assets.They dominate the rights of the people who own the surface of the land.
“Split Estate” is one of those films that makes you shake your head in disgust.By law, a corporation can drill wells on your property, operate its invasive infrastructure in your fields or ranchlands to within a couple of hundred feet of your house.They can disregard your view, your lifestyle, your health.While toxic waste accumulates and water sources are undermined, shortsighted business forces claim with a straight face that they are “good neighbors.”
Train ever watchful eyes on corporate practices, on the quality of life they’re willing to sacrifice.Maybe you think we need those riches under our good ol’ American soil.Maybe these enterprises haven’t scratched your surface painfully enough yet.Maybe they haven’t started drilling under your quality of life yet.