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TheStreet Open House

New Documentary Targets Critics Of Fracking

Like a genial Michael Moore with an Irish accent, McAleer narrates his confrontations with fracking opponents. Though some of McAleer's questions are simplistic and leading, it's startling to see how some critics of fracking react.

Fox, himself a journalist, dodges McAleer's questions, hangs up on him and even uses his lawyers to try to have trailers for "FrackNation" removed from YouTube and Vimeo.

Fox said in a statement that he's refused to deal with McAleer "because he has persistently harassed Josh Fox and represented his statements in a false light." Fox also said McAleer has a long history of baiting environmentalists, denying climate change and spreading misinformation.

In eastern Pennsylvania, a landowner involved in a lawsuit against gas drilling companies confronts McAleer on a public highway, threatens to sue him, says she has a license to carry a pistol and calls 911. A police officer arrives and determines that McAleer has done nothing wrong.

Shellenberger, who hasn't seen the film yet, said it's interesting that McAleer used low-budget counterculture tactics to make a pro-drilling argument. He welcomed the fact that "FrackNation" also presents the views of numerous people in rural areas who say gas drilling is a benefit, not a curse.

For example, Montrose, Pa., farmer Ron White and his son say the royalties from drilling have helped keep the family farm in business, and that his water and land haven't been harmed by a nearby gas well.

McAleer also shows a respected cancer researcher some of Fox's claims that the chemicals used in fracking will cause cancer.

"If people say fracking is causing cancer, they don't know what they're talking about," University of California at Berkeley scientist Bruce Ames replies, noting that cabbage and broccoli also contain minute portions of chemicals that could technically be called carcinogens.

In strictly visual terms, FrackNation also quietly makes a point by showing that most of the Pennsylvania countryside in drilling areas is still beautiful, and not a wasteland. Though drilling is an industrial process, the iconic wells and fleets of noisy trucks that service the process disappear from a drilling pad after a few weeks or months.

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