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New Fracking Film An Answer to ‘Gasland’

By Kristen Meriwether
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 7, 2013 Last Updated: February 14, 2013
Related articles: United States » New York City
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US-Energy-Gas-Environment A Consol Energy Horizontal Gas Drilling Rig explores the Marcellus Shale outside the town of Waynesburg, PA on April 13, 2012. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

US-Energy-Gas-Environment A Consol Energy Horizontal Gas Drilling Rig explores the Marcellus Shale outside the town of Waynesburg, PA on April 13, 2012. (MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Phelim McAleer wants you to know “the fracking truth” about hydraulic fracking—at least that is what he is advertising with his latest documentary film, “FrackNation.”

McAleer, a journalist turned filmmaker, takes aim at Josh Fox’s highly popular 2010 film “Gasland.” The earlier film is credited with bringing the issue of fracking to the mainstream, and spawning a very outspoken anti-fracking movement—especially in New York state where the practice is being reviewed.

In “FrackNation,” McAleer systematically picks apart the message from “Gasland” that fracking is unsafe and harming families and drinking water in Pennsylvania. He even ventures to Russia to explore how the former Soviet Bloc may be involved in drumming up opposition to fracking in order to keep Russia as the leading gas exporter in the world.

“FrackNation” is an anomaly in the debate on fracking, in that it is not made by a gas company but is pro-fracking. If you have seen “Gasland,” it is worth 1 hour and 15 minutes to watch “FrackNation” and see what omissions Fox made in his film. While “FrackNation” provides the flip side to “Gasland,” it should be viewed knowing it too has its own shortcomings.

The idea for the film was born after McAleer posted a YouTube video of himself asking Fox about discrepancies in “Gasland,” questions Fox dodged. The video was removed after Fox’s lawyers got involved.

“I am from Ireland and no one tells me to shut up,” McAleer jokingly said during a phone interview. He explained he felt it was unprofessional and a cover-up and set out to uncover the truth.

McAleer raised over $200,000 using Kickstarter, an online funding platform. He said he refused to take any money from the oil and gas companies, even returning $25,000 to $30,000 to retain transparency.

According to his Kickstarter page, only one person gave a donation higher than $5,000, however, the film has a pro-gas feel. The drilling of natural gas is painted as a clean, healthy alternative to dirty coal. The drilling process is drawn out simply, and shows no ill effects.

All renewables, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, are shown to be harmful, ineffective, or dangerous—leaving natural gas as the only clear winner in the search for energy to replace coal.

McAleer points out that all of his research and facts come from scientists, whereas “Gasland” was based on the emotional stories of residents.

McAleer investigated husband and wife, Julie and Craig Sautner, who were heavily profiled in “Gasland.” Following “Gasland,” the Sautners traveled throughout New York to show off jugs of brown water, which they say were contamination from fracking.

In his film, McAleer takes a sample of the Sautner’s water, which came out of the tap clean, and after testing, finds it contains no methane. McAleer also shows that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cleared the drinking water in Dimock, Pa. as safe, something often overlooked by mainstream media reports.

The Truth?

Fracking is a topic that has been discussed, analyzed, and dissected from coast to coast as each state tries to deal with the potential environmental threats as well as the economic gains from using the technology. Some states jumped in early and are dealing with the environmental repercussions now. Other states, like New York, are stuck in a holding pattern while scientists and government officials try to sort out if fracking can be done safely. New York is in its fifth year of researching the issue.

While “FrackNation” brings another voice to an already crowded debate, it is at least a new angle, and unlike Fox, who has refused to publicly answer any of the discrepancies, McAleer invites people to pick apart his film.

“Please do! And if you put a YouTube video challenging my film, I won’t take it down,” McAleer said with a laugh.

The Epoch Times reached out to Fox for a comment on “FrackNation,” however, he did not return requests by press time.

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