New film comes to defense of fracking

Makers of an upcoming documentary that seeks to counter the anti-hydraulic fracturing film “Gasland” have raised over $36,000 through crowdsourcing in a matter of a few days.

The creators of the new documentary called “FrackNation” hope to dispel what they view as inaccuracies in the Oscar-nominated film “Gasland” and give more voice to those who live in the communities that are benefiting economically from natural gas drilling.

Phelim McAleer, formerly a journalist with The Economist and Financial Times, is teaming up with his wife Ann McElhinney, a fellow former journalist, in making the film. The Irish couple in the past have made other films that took a critical eye toward such ideas as global warming and environmentalism, including “Not Evil Just Wrong,” which challenged the ideas in Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

McAleer said he was inspired to make “FrackNation” after he had an exchange at a question-and-answer session with “Gasland” director Josh Fox over that film’s notorious scene showing residents lighting their water coming from their faucet on fire.

“He admitted that people could light the tap water decades before fracking ever started,” McAleer said in a phone interview. “But he decided not to include it in the documentary because, quote, ‘It wasn’t relevant.’”

McAleer said he posted a video of the exchange online, only to have Fox’s lawyers successfully fight to have it taken down because it included a short clip from “Gasland.”

He viewed that as a journalist censorship of another journalist.

“That got me interested in the whole story,” McAleer said. “What is he covering up, and what’s the real story here?”

In video posted online of that question-and-answer session, Fox seeks to rebut McAleer’s criticisms that he had intentionally excluded from “Gasland” reports of gas being in the water and people lighting it long before fracturing started, saying those reports from various places didn’t necessarily have bearing on the particular situation of the residents he shows in the film: “The citizens reported they could not light their water on fire before the drilling and after the drilling they could light the water.”

The debate over fracturing has only gotten more heated of late, especially in Congress, where oil and gas advocates are wary of looming regulations of the practice from the Interior Department and studies of it from agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department.

Environmental groups and many Democrats, meanwhile, say the regulations are needed to protect the public from the pollution they claim is caused by hydraulic fracturing, where mixtures of water, sand and chemicals are injected underground at high pressures to break up the rock that holds oil and gas.

McAleer argues that the debate over hydraulic fracturing has been dominated by upper-class urbanites, and he said ”FrackNation” will incorporate the views of farmers, workers and other typical residents who strongly support fracturing for the economic benefits it’s brought to their areas but who haven’t had their voices heard as loudly.

“That’s what I’ve wanted to do, get all that information out there,” he said.

Dimock, Pa., has become something of a ground zero for fracturing, he said, ever since some residents there complained about the quality of their drinking water. The EPA’s preliminary testing has found no evidence to suggest the residents’ drinking water is unsafe.

But he said what has received less attention is that far more people have signed a petition saying “there’s nothing wrong with our water, so please stop saying there is.”

He seeks to raise $150,000 for the project, but he said there’s no way for him to find the funding for his film from big studios because they’re not interested in a film that takes a skeptical eye toward “Big Environment.” That’s why he decided to crowdsource with the website Kickstarter, he said.

In just days, he’s already one-fourth of the way there, though it’s not clear yet exactly where the donations are coming from.
He said it’s humbling to have ordinary Americans opening their wallets for an immigrant couple to tell the story of other ordinary Americans.

“It’s like being part of an American dream and American story,” he said.

This post was last updated at 3:50 p.m.

18 Comments

  1. CAD1936

    Why a film. Why not just disclosure of scientific facts?

    I am like my increase in royalty checks but I will enjoy them a lot more when I find out that no harm to the environment nor to other people is resulting.

    #1
  2. tboy in houston

    inaccuracies? What’s inaccurate about faucets lighting on fire, fracking chemicals in well water?

    #2
  3. tboy in houston

    I like how they edited his answer to the lighting comment by not including his complete answer. What a propaganda piece. Who paid them? What a joke, it is an advertisement. ROTFLMAO

    #3
  4. Summer

    Imagine if they would put all those millions..no, BILLIONS…into finding better and cleaner alternative fuels instead of bashing the earth repeatedly. Just imagine that.

    #4
  5. Al

    “In just days, he’s already one-fourth of the way there, though it’s not clear yet exactly where the donations are coming from.
    He said it’s humbling to have ordinary Americans opening their wallets for an immigrant couple to tell the story of other ordinary Americans.”

    If he does not know where the donations are coming from, how can he say that “ordinary Americans” are opening their wallets? Apparently he is starting out with a lie and I have no doubt he will end up producing a lie.

    #5
  6. Dollar

    tboy in Houston says

    ” ……..inaccuracies? What’s inaccurate about faucets lighting on fire, fracking chemicals in well water? ”

    Uhhh , maybe because there are no fracing chemicals in the water ? Could that possibly be the inaccuracy ??

    Nawwww …. anything John Fox says in a film is true, doncha know .

    Yeah right.

    And poeple in Pennsylvania have been lighting their water on fire for 50 years.

    And if shallow gas migrated to the water aquifers due to drilling, then that has nothing to do with fracing.

    That could happen on any well drilled.

    And if it was caused by shallow gas migrating due to drilling, its only impacted 18 residences, while thousands of wells have been drilled.

    But hey, why bother with facts when there so much inaccuracy to be spread about.

    #6
  7. Dollar

    Summer, imagine if those companies were oil/gas drilling and exploration companies and that is what they do. They are not in the alternative energy business.

    They hire Petroleum engineers and geologists, why should PE’s and geologists be expected to develop renewable energy ?

    Only in your distorted simple world, would that question be raised.

    Besides, we have all the renewable energy we need, have you not heard ? We have plenty of pixie dust and are now harnassing unicorn farts. With have nothing to be concerned about.

    #7
  8. Robert F.

    Didn’t someone already make Haynesville?

    Haynesville was billed as a indie “grassroots” film that was later tied directly to the industry being that the film maker and a gas company shared an address.

    So I suppose Fracknation (Haynesville II) is supposed to be more credible because its getting a sizeable sum of money in a very short time laundered through an untraceable crowd source site?

    #8
  9. Mike Foster

    I donated a $100.00 to the site and I have never worked in the oil and gas industry.

    I have owned about $5,000 of Halliburton Stock since 2004. Does that disqualify my voice?

    I get it environmentalists are purists and everyone else has an agenda.

    What a crock.

    #9
  10. Mike Foster

    The video clip being discussed was in relation to Josh Fox’s reporting on a water well in Weld County Colorado.

    In fact, Gasland was so inaccurate in reporting the facts in Colorado, that the Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources had to issue a Gasland Corrections Document which gives detail on the well dishonestly portrayed by Fox in the famous scene:

    The Markham and McClure water wells are both located in the Denver-Julesburg Basin in WeldCounty. They and other water wells in this area draw water from the Laramie-Fox Hills Aquifer,which is composed of interbedded sandstones, shales, and coals. Indeed, the water wellcompletion report for Mr. Markham’s well shows that it penetrated at least four different coalbeds. The occurrence of methane in the coals of the Laramie Formation has been welldocumented in numerous publications by the Colorado Geological Survey, the United StatesGeological Survey, and the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists dating back more than 30years. For example, a 1976 publication by the Colorado Division of Water Resources statesthat the aquifer contains “troublesome amounts of . . . methane.” A 1983 publication by theUnited States Geological Survey similarly states that “[m]ethane-rich gas commonly occurs inground water in the Denver Basin, southern Weld County, Colorado.” And a 2001 report by theColorado Geological Survey discusses the methane potential of this formation and citesapproximately 30 publications on this subject.”The Markham and McClure water wells are both located in the Denver-Julesburg Basin in Weld County. They and other water wells in this area draw water from the Laramie-Fox Hills Aquifer, which is composed of interbedded sandstones, shales, and coals. Indeed, the water well completion report for Mr. Markham’s well shows that it penetrated at least four different coal beds. The occurrence of methane in the coals of the Laramie Formation has been well documented in numerous publications by the Colorado Geological Survey, the United States Geological Survey, and the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists dating back more than 30 years. For example, a 1976 publication by the Colorado Division of Water Resources states that the aquifer contains “troublesome amounts of . . . methane.” A 1983 publication by the United States Geological Survey similarly states that “[m]ethane-rich gas commonly occurs in ground water in the Denver Basin, southern Weld County, Colorado.” And a 2001 report by the Colorado Geological Survey discusses the methane potential of this formation and cites approximately 30 publications on this subject.”

    In the video clip posted here, Fox claims that “the citizens reported that they could not light their water on fire before the drilling, and after the drilling, they could light their water on fire.” But the COGCC Gasland Corrections Document addresses this claimed temporal relationship between drilling and flammable tapwater, something Fox also left out:

    “The COGCC has also reviewed the records for all oil and gas wells located within one-half mile of the Markham and McClure wells, which is more than double the typical hydraulic fracture length in Colorado. This review indicated that: all oil and gas wells near the Markham well were drilled and hydraulically fractured in 1991, except for two wells that were fractured in 2005 and 2006, respectively; and all oil and gas wells near the McClure well were drilled and hydraulically fractured in 2002, except for one well that was hydraulically fractured in 2005. The records do not reflect any pressure failures or other problems associated with these wells that would indicate a loss of fracture fluid or gas from the well bore into the surrounding geologic formations.”

    The COGCC investigated claims by Mr. Markham in 2008. Gasland came out in 2010. The COGCC speaks to the “before and after” claim as follows:

    “Finally, the (Gasland) website asserts that the water in the Markham and McClure wells deteriorated after drilling and hydraulic fracturing occurred nearby. However, COGCC records indicate little or no temporal relationship between the Markham and McClure complaints and nearby drilling and hydraulic fracturing activities, which occurred several years earlier and in most cases many years earlier.”

    In this willingness to misinform Gasland’s viewers by leaving out information that is inconvenient to his fear-mongering advocacy, Mr. Fox is exhibiting behavior that seems common among those involved in the anti-fracking industry – when the findings of government scientists agree with them, they’re viewed and published as accurate and the scientists hailed as heroes; when these same government scientists make findings that don’t agree with them, they’re accused of being “bribed,” “bought off,” “in the pocket of industry,” and so forth. Even when it is the exact same scientists!

    #10
  11. bradley

    Ms. Summer, go back to FuelFix’s home page and read the third story down, discussing how many billions have been spent on renewables, and how the tax payers are on the hook for it. Your idea of taking private companies money and spending it as you see fit, it scarry…

    #11
  12. Katy

    I donated $125 and I DO work in the shale gas industry.
    If Mr. Fox can create a film with his “viewpoints” why can’t anyone else create a film showing the opposite viewpoint?
    Why is it so awful that there be a balance in viewpoints?
    BTW, just where did Mr. Fox’s funding come from?

    #12
  13. Randy Verret

    About time someone “pushes back” on all this nonsense. There are TWO SIDES to this story and I don’t believe anyone in the oil & gas business is affraid of the facts & healthy debate on energy…Let’s get the party started!!!

    #13
  14. s3

    Fracking is just the latest manifestation of the oil industry’s infantile attention-seeking obsession with a Colorado family that just happens to be sitting on top of a large natural gas find.

    They couldn’t bully them off their land so they have to try and come in sideways — trust me, this will end in tears for the parasites but first it’s important to let the parasites make their own mistakes so they can’t fall back on their persecution complex when horrific, incomprehensible punishments befall them.

    God forbid individual states should be in control of their own destiny to make the communities they want to live in without the Swine yap yap yapping at their heels every step of the way…

    #14
  15. Robert F.

    In Gasland II you’ll get to see water wells all over the country producing flames, even Texas!
    There was a water well in Arkansas that was spewing so much gas for several months that Southwestern Energy bought the property and set up a flare that burned 20′ high for over a month while they tried to figure out which of the half dozen gas wells surrounding it was the problem.

    Of course they just did this to be good neighbors mind you.

    All this naturally occurring gas in water wells. Who knew? Makes me question why we even need shale gas, just drill a water well and viola!

    #15
  16. Rollinac

    Let’s not mention most fracking is taking place thousands of feet below the aquifers. Sorry, but gas can’t permeate that far. Are there mistakes made in the casing that cause these problems…I guarantee there have been mistakes. Is either side perfect…not in the least. Fracking has generated huge new natural gas supplies and reserves benefiting an extremely large number of people while negatively impacting FAR FEWER people. Sounds like a good trade-off to me. I’d sure like to see more renewables as well because we are going to run out eventually, but they’re not economical without subsidies.

    #16
  17. Robert F.

    “but they’re not economical without subsidies.”

    Fossil fuels receive BILLIONS in subsides. One example is Joe Barton(R)TX6 provides millions in subsidies through Ultra Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas Research Fund that he in turn personally profits from. When asked to suspend it to alleviate a bloated federal budget he howled like a mashed cat.

    But for some reason he just couldn’t quite explain how he came to be a partner in one of the most profitable areas of shale gas.
    http://www.dallasnews.com/news/washington/20100203-U-S-Rep-Joe-6388.ece

    #17
  18. Pro-Fracking

    Study Finds No Link Between Fracking, Groundwater Contamination
    A new University of Texas study finds no link between gas and oil well fracking and groundwater contamination.

    http://www.kwtx.com/statenews/headlines/Study_Finds_No_Link_Between_Fracking_Groundwater_Contamination_139521163.html

    #18