The film FrackNation was screened at Sullivan West High School on May 8, and played to an audience of perhaps 100 people, a majority of whom were clearly in favor of gas drilling.
The film was a partly an attack on director Josh Fox and his anti-gas drilling film Gasland. During a question and answer session, one member of the audience said Gasland left the impression that every gas well would result in water contamination, sickness and death. If that’s true, then FrackNation left the impression that fracking and drilling would never result in water contamination, harm to the environment, illness or human injury.
FrackNation was big on emotions and in at least in some cases, glossed over or omitted important relevant information. For instance, there was a clearly hostile interview with Carol Collier, executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission. After the interview, which Collier walked out of, narrator and director Phelim McAleer said that Collier’s actions were putting farmers in the Delaware River Watershed in danger of losing their farms because, due to a moratorium on fracking, they could not lease their land for gas drilling. The film, however, failed to inform the audience that the voting members of the DRBC are the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and a member of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Collier is not a voting member of the DRBC.
In a question and answer session after the film, McAleer, who hails from Ireland, dismissed alternative energy as belonging to the past. He said, “When I first came to America, I was told there were a group of conservatives who were backward looking, who looked back to this golden age. And then there were these radical people called progressives, they looked forward and they were progressive. And I got here and found that the progressives didn’t believe in progress. Progressives worship the sun and the wind. They want solar panels, they worship the sun, they want windmills. Windmills were got rid of in Holland 400 or 500 years ago because they were useless.”
At another point, McAleer attacked Craig and Julie Sautner, who along with ten other families in Dimock, PA sued Cabot Oil and Gas over water wells that they claimed were contaminated. In the film, Craig said among other things, that his well-water was contaminated with “three kinds of uranium, two of them weapons-grade.” The Saunters received support from celebrities Yoko Ono and Mark Ruffalo.
McAleer said, “If you call yourself a moderate environmentalist, then you need to say, ‘I disown Craig and Julie Sautner for lying … they lied. And the reason they lied, they lied for money, and for celebrity. Mark Ruffolo came and hugged them, Yoko Ono came and hugged them. Personally, I’d have to be paid to have Yoko Ono hug me, but each to his own. I’d rather have Mark Ruffalo hug me, actually, nothing wrong with that.”
Several local residents including Bill Graby, Mike Uretsky and Marian Schweighofer are prominently featured in the film.