New Documentary Targets Critics Of Fracking
But though "FrackNation" discredits some of the most extreme anti-fracking rhetoric, it also sometimes goes too far in dismissing legitimate concerns. For example, in tiny Dimock, Pa., where drinking water wells were tainted with methane, McAleer leaves viewers with the impression that drilling never caused problems for about a dozen families.
In fact, state environmental regulators determined that a drilling company contaminated the aquifer underneath homes there with explosive levels of methane and issued huge fines. The state later determined the company had fixed the problems, and most of the families reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement.
"FrackNation" also doesn't acknowledge that Texas regulators say there were some problems with leaking gas and air quality in the early days of the boom there, and The Associated Press recently found that federal officials did have evidence that gas drilling may have contaminated some water wells in that region.
On such points, "FrackNation" is guilty of some of the same sins of exaggeration that it criticizes Fox for.Yet Shellenberger said anti-fracking critics such as Fox and advocates such as McAleer may both be necessary. "The radicals often play an important role in these environmental conflicts, to hold regulators' feet to the fire, to motivate industry. I think the radicals have played a positive role but it can go too far," Shellenberger said, while adding that the presumption that environmentalists are all "on the side of all things good" is too simplistic. McAleer, a journalist and filmmaker who previously covered the IRA for England's Sunday Times and other papers, said the Kickstarter campaign didn't accept money from oil and gas companies or their top executives. But critics have noted that one of his previous films attacked Al Gore and global warming, while another touted the benefits of a mine in a poor region of Romania.
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