My Response to FrackNation: Ball's in your court Gasland

By Keith Mauck


Well, that was the best $20 I’ve spent in awhile.

Last night, after 2 ½ years of laboring under the HBO-induced nightmare of “Gasland,”  the other side of the fracking story premiered on AXS TV, a relatively obscure cable channel, unfortunately. The documentary “FrackNation” takes viewers on a journey with journalist Phelim McAleer as he seeks the truth about fracking that environmentalists and their Hollywood friends won’t tell.

The documentary isn’t likely to be covered in many mainstream media outlets, but it was a hit with “the people” long before premiere night. They funded its production through more than $200,000 in small-dollar, online donations. Full disclosure. Yours truly threw in $20 to help the cause.

“This is a film about people, and it will be funded by people,” McAleer said. “... Clearly the truth about fracking is something they wanted but weren’t getting.”

“FrackNation” actually is a response to “Gasland,” the 2010 anti-fracking documentary that inspired the storyline in “Promised Land,” and “Gasland” director Josh Fox is McAleer’s nemesis. “FrackNation” opens and closes with confrontations between the two.

In between those bookends, the film explores both the positive economic impact of fracking and the negative reaction of environmentalists to the drilling technique – and to anyone who dares question the green narrative about it.

The “FrackNation” storyline centers around Dimock, Pa., a rural town of about 1,400 dubbed “A Colossal Fracking Mess” by Vanity Fair and frequented by celebrities looking to score environmental points.

McAleer visits the town and the surrounding countryside to challenge the assumption that fracking is responsible for polluting the water there and to scold environmentalists for killing the dreams of struggling communities and farmers. The documentary also undercuts charges that fracking may cause earthquakes and cancer.

In that sense, “FrackNation” is like the first two documentaries McAleer and his wife, Ann McIlhenney, produced. “Mine Your Own Business” rebutted environmental arguments against gold mining in impoverished Romania, and “Not Evil Just Wrong” disputed global warming claims that could cost jobs in the American heartland.

McAleer and McIlhenney – joined by Magdalena Segieda as a co-director of “FrackNation – clearly relish the role of spoiler to the environmental movement. And they are quite good at it. From Fox to a public official with ties to him to landowners Craig and Julie Sautner. Whenever McAleer corners them with hard facts contrary to their anti-fracking attacks, they waver between passivity and hostility.

At one point in an apparently chance meeting on a rural road, Julie Sautner showed her gun permit to McAleer and implied that she was about to show him the business end of the gun that went with it. She later called the police on him and made him out to be the bad guy, even though the footage shows otherwise.

“FrackNation” masterfully casts the crew of unlovable, anti-fracking characters against everymen like Ron White, a dairy farmer who has a gas pad 400 yards from his barn.

“I feel good about that,” White says. “I like to stand in the barn and see what’s making money out here. … Since the gas came along, this is the best cow on the farm. I make the most money on this cow and don’t have to buy any grain for it.”

At a minimum, open-minded viewers of “FrackNation” will finish the film more skeptical of the environmentalists and celebrities who decry fracking. And odds are good that they will leave the show as firmly in the pro-fracking camp as the directors are. An achievement the Oil and Gas Industry has been unable to accomplish despite their $100 million high-gloss campaigns.

Josh Fox, as we used to say on the basketball courts of Indiana, “Your Ball!”

Note: The documentary will rebroadcasted on AXS TV on January 26th at 12
PM and February 2nd at 10AM EST. Or, the DVD is available for purchase on Fracknation’s website.


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Comment by Kathleen on January 31, 2013 at 8:37am

When it comes to fracking I see the glass as half full and you see it as half empty and that's okay since we live in a country that allows that.
Every large industry has a laundry list of issues, problems and concerns.
Yes we have OPEC in the world but its in a region of the world that is very unsettled (always has but reving up again with bigger weapons in the stock pile) and IMO our country can't be held hostage one day by our ability to get oil from them when they have a full on meltdown which is very possible.
My hope is this industry keeps their workers and landowners safe while providing a need. The rest of the world is also embrasing this technology and our government right now has there ears perked up and Is warching. If checks and balances are met (I think in a whole they are) I think the USA will be okay but if OPEC stumbles hard we will not be okay. We need to be more secure in our energy needs.
I think any large industry that can impact the earth needs critics to help keep them as honest as possible.
Comment by Richard Droske on January 30, 2013 at 8:51pm

No better way anytime soon Kathleen. Way down the road we may have hydrogen fusion (the process that powers the sun) which would provide unlimited energy with no nuclear waste. But that is not close or even a certainty. Supplementing with wind and solar is definitely a good policy but will never provide all the energy we need.


This leaves oil (which we will never have enough of without importing) coal (the absolute dirtiest most environmentally unfriendly) Hydro (mostly damning rivers or in a few cases like Niagara Falls basically free and clean but again limited) or the gas we are talking about here. The cleanest of the carbon fuels by far, one that absolutely must be utilized if we ever hope to even approach energy independence.

Comment by Kathleen on January 30, 2013 at 8:35pm
Gary I do believe there will be more accidents similar to the one you mentioned but I see them in every industry. I hear about trucks carry diesel not mostly salt water and a little diesel, pure diesel overturning and people having to leave their homes until its cleaned up, and it can be for days, but those trucks are still out on every highway across the country everyday. I except nuclear but I also lived in NJ when 3 mile island almost had a melt down and I'm sorry but that could have been the accident of all accidents in the US. We need power and as far as I can tell there is no other better option than NG at this point in time. In the future I believe our ancestors will look back at this way to generate power (fossil fuels) as barbaric, but until the green energy can support or even hold the power we need, here we are. What other option do you suggest? I keep talking about coal since most polluting plants use that to generate energy. Due to the drop in NG many have or are making the switch. I looked into solar just for walkway lights since I thought it was a great idea but they didn't work. I called the co. and asked what was going on. The gentleman that answered asked me how did I think it was going to work when the state and area I live in is cloudy more often than its sunny. My answer, than don't sell them in this area and tease us!
When people complain about this industry and feel it shouldn't be, I wonder what they think is going to power my lights, my fridge, my car, now and in the next 10, 20 years. Please someone who feels this way please tell me another way since I'm very open to options that are real and affordable.
Comment by Richard Droske on January 30, 2013 at 7:53pm

Well lets see Gary.


Heading towards this trout creek would mean it didn't actually reachit i suppose.


Seven families "Temporarily Evacuate" would mean they are already back in so no real harm was done.


Sounds like just the company involved taking appropriate precautions.


Yes I would like to see you do this all day long if you really can.


I am not even totally convinced that this supposed incident occurred as you provide no supporting source.


In any case, even if it did it seems to be a relatively minor industrial accident that you are exagerating because of your bias.


And yes I woul like to see you do this all day.


I'm sure you can't but if you try please include evidence that your anectidotes are real in the future (links, source of info etc.).

And of course it is obvious from even your description of t

Comment by Richard Droske on January 30, 2013 at 6:02pm

You complained because you were unable to pass two vehicles at one time in a previous post. An obviously unsafe maneuver in any case.. 

Take it slow you will live longer and have less chance of harming others. So you couldn't reach the speed limit this one time? How much under? How far to go? Do the math and find out that it might have cost you 45 seconds and then change your behavior and attitude accordingly.

As I said patience is a virtue.

I stated no false information, only referred to your prior post..

And most important you state nothing at all that shows gas drilling has done any real harm to anyone while the benefits are obvious.  To the land owners and the people who now have jobs.

This includes the drivers of the trucks that seem to bother you so much.

Post some real harm that has occurred or just keep making opponents seem like disgruntled people who didn't happen to own land that gas companies were interested in.

Comment by Richard Droske on January 30, 2013 at 3:36pm

So these trucks are driving about recklessly running people over willy nilly?

Or just this one example of an accident, the kind rhat happens every day and causes much more damage than gas drilling ever will.

Wasn't it you that complained you could not pass the gas trucks because you were in such a rush to get to..... oh you never did say. Perhaps this motorcyclist was as incautious as you seem to be.

Get real or get lost would be my advice. You are trying to help stop drilling but your ridiculous arguments only help show the more logical position of the other side.

Comment by Greg Smith on January 30, 2013 at 1:09pm

Gary P, I realize this is a slight diversion from the topic but, considering your statement of "... dauther's generation will have the responsibility of trying to clean that mess up.", how bad has it been for our grandparents, our parents, we as parents to clean up after the original discovery of oil and gas? Are you proposing that as a people, as a nation,that we would prefer to be living in the style of our forefathers in 1700s? The trade is obvious; we enjoy conveniences (such as the computer you are using) but at some cost. Unless you are living off the grid entirely (and I do know of a few who commune very primitively in the mountains of CO), then you are a consumer. We can't drill for just one little bottle of chain oil for the one hippie hypocrit on one bicycle who forgets how that bicycle was made and transported to the retailer of their choice. If you so much as ever turn the key on a vehicle, you are a "demander" of petro fuels. As for me, we intend to provide it for you!!

As for the motorcyclist, if he had been in a car surrounded by more protection, would he have been so injured. Remember, he made a CHOICE that fateful day to expose himself to harm. I respect his choice since I ride, too. And, when he fired up that 'cycle, he called on ol' petro to take him to his destiny. Choices are only 'a matter of degrees'; one person chooses a hybrid because it's a lifestyle (certainly free to choose) and I drive a powerful truck due to my lifestyle. I can't haul my horses behind a hybrid. Would you agree that I'm entitled to my freedom of choice?   

Comment by Richard Droske on January 29, 2013 at 10:41pm

Kathleen you are right on target, perfectly correct, without even mentioning the economic benefits to the land owners and the unemployed who suddenly have jobs.

Gary show a little patience. It is a virtue and will make you a better person if you practice. Where do you need to be in such a hurry that you must pass these vehicles and endanger other motorists? I have seen many drivers like you appear to be and I would say they present a more immediate danger than gas drilling.

Scott if you can be evicted you do not own the property. Admittedly an inconvenience but you knew or should have know that the actual owner had the right to do this when you signed this lease. Is it that hard to find another trailer park, apartment or rental home?

Comment by Kathleen on January 29, 2013 at 8:10pm
Scott I really have thought about this and researched this. And like I mentioned I lived strip mining and even with all Gary mentioned I feel coal is worse. It took a decade to mine thousands of acres around me and it always was polluting the air with those huge machines, chainsaws to clear cut, the never ending sound of the trucks (I swear all they did was back up :0). The land left is nothing but an eyesore IMO now, all of it. Land no one wanted anymore when they were done until this oil and gas got going. Trust me a lot of it was priced to sell and it still sat. I understood we needed it but now we have a cleaner way to make energy once its out of the ground. Gas burns cleaner than coal and I do not know anyone that will dispute that. I'm just not sure people who complain about NG actually sees the full impact of mining. This is just surface mining. All those deaths in the mines for coal, black lung, collapses,and abandoned mines. As long as we need energy from a fossil fuel we will be impacting the earth in a negative way, I just believe after seeing both in action that NG has less of an impact. I'm all for a transition to no fossil fuels but as of right now its not possible and the progress we are making is using fossil fuels to generate the plants to make the other options.
I currently have about 6 pads close to me and numerous ones in short driving distance. Yes we added truck traffic, yes they are dirty to run but so was the dirty, nasty coal trucks in and out, in and out. At least these wells will eventually be tied into pipes.
Comment by Scott Cannon on January 28, 2013 at 12:05pm

I feel your pain Kathleen. I bet you feel cheated by the mining company for ruining your water. Imagine the people that live around a contaminated well, then imaging the people living by a pipeline that they don't want, then imagine people who live near a compressor station or other gas processing facility that they don't want. Imaging being given 2 months before being evicted from your home so they can build a water withdrawal station in your trailer park. Imagine living next to deydration station that rattles your home 24/7 and gives your family nosebleeds. There is a much bigger footprint to gas drilling that most people don't even consider. I have made videos on all these scenarios I have mentioned called the Marcellus Shale Reality Tour on YouTube. We must consider the impact.

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