Phelim McAleer, speaking at yesterday's Heritage Foundation's Bloggers Briefing, said the decision to create his feature documentary on hydraulic fracturing, FrackNation, “started with just doing a little bit of journalism.”
McAleer attended a Q&A session in Chicago where director Josh Fox sat at a panel to discuss his documentary film, Gasland. McAleer asked Fox whether the phenomenon of the "flaming faucet" featured in a scene from Gasland were caused by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fox ultimately admitted that no, fracking was not responsible for the flammable chemicals present in the “firewater,” but that he chose not to include this fact “because it’s not relevant.”
So McAleer did some research. He discovered that the places in Fox’s film portrayed as victims of fracking were named decades ago for the high methane levels found naturally in their waters. One was called historically, “Burning Springs,” by the Native Americans who first inhabited the area long before fracking was invented.
McAleer made his confrontation with Fox accessible to the world at large by posting it on YouTube. The video was removed and re-posted several times, with McAleer coming to comprehend the full implications of the understood rule of Q&A’s, “You shall ask the right Q’s.”
McAleer, goaded by his maxim, “I’m from Northern Ireland. Nobody tells me to shut up,” has pursued in his research to expose the truth about hydraulic fracturing. FrackNation has been purchased by business tycoon Mark Cuban, and is set to air later in the month in many homes across America. FrackNation will hit the screens at around the same time Matt Damon's anti-fracking feature, Promised Land is in theaters. Cuban told The Hollywood Reporter, "Of course the timing is relevant."
“Most Americans don’t know what fracking is,” McAleer said. Since hydraulic fracturing started in 1947, he attests, “there is no evidence of fracking polluting water anywhere, anytime.”
McAleer said what he found most shocking in his quest for answers about fracking was the media’s failure to expose the whole truth about the hot issue. “Journalists will take a scare story as a study,” he said, adding that none of the claims made by people interviewed in Gasland and other such investigative reports were ever scientifically verified.
McAleer said the media also purposefully avoid reporting on the violent aspect of the fracking debate: “Some liberals believe in [guns] when journalists ask environmentalists difficult questions.”
Of the anti-fracking extremists, McAleer went on to say, “They’re thugs with smiles on their faces. They’re thugs in sandals. They don’t respect democracy.”
Also underreported, McAleer said, is the fracking boom, which he branded “a modern-day Gold Rush.” “All of humanity is affected,” he said, citing restaurateurs, hoteliers, and others who are prospering from drillers who have flooded natural-gas rich states such as North Dakota, New York, and Pennsylvania.
McAleer attributes “embitterment” in those not benefitting from the fracking royalties, or not benefitting as much as their neighbors, for a lawsuit in Dimock Township, Pennsylvania. Particularly telling is the non-joyous reaction of a family informed that their tap water is safe for consumption, shown in McAleer’s film.
FrackNation will air on AXS TV on Tuesday, January 22, at 9 p.m. EST.