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 MJ on September 29, 2014 at 11:09pm

Finally saw this film the other day.  Found it at the local library!  Great response to gasland and it gives some more insight on some of the themes in promised land.  If you have'nt seen it - give it a whirl.  Sure makes you wonder about hidden agenda (antis & wealthy greeny weenies).  Just wanted to bump up this old thread for some of the old timers here and any newer interested parties. 

Comment by Kathleen Elsie Gibbs on February 6, 2013 at 8:39am

PBS sadly it no longer supports anything other then the Administration' takeover.

Comment by Richard Droske on February 5, 2013 at 9:59pm

And if they haven't even drilled where is all the damage or harm you speak of Gary?

I do know what I am talking about and I doubt both of the figures you mention. 

80 per acre might be true for the shallow drilling rights but she would still be able to lease the deep rights after giving current lessor an option. 

I have not heard of anyone getting nearly as much as 6250 an acre in Venango county but perhaps you are elsewhere and in a more probable drilling location.

However I still doubt your comments. One lease is too low one to high. And you have never said anything about what harm has been done.

You get 6250 per acre and no drilling has been done and you complain? This I find hard to believe.


Comment by Richard Droske on February 5, 2013 at 3:07pm

Kathleen has lived with it. But says nothing about whether positive or negative? What government funded media do you refer to?

Gary I see you have become uncustomarily  silent since my request for hard facts.

And the rest of the anti drillers seem to have disappeared as well once they were asked for hard facts.

Sour grapes by people who have no land to lease I suspect.

Comment by Kathleen Elsie Gibbs on February 5, 2013 at 2:41pm

I truly have to laugh at the suggestion that a government funded media would air a anti-EPA show.

As someone that has lived with the drilling for six years now, I have found that there is some truth in every + or - being thrown at us.

Comment by Richard Droske on January 31, 2013 at 11:25am

And if they haven't drilled I am certain you could give back the "huge payoff" (how about details on price per acre) you received. With a bit of interest added and probably the help of your lawyer (surely you had one before you signed) you could gett out of any lease you are unhappy with. 

Comment by Richard Droske on January 31, 2013 at 11:15am

And what harm has been done Gary?

What company has a lease on your land?

Where is it located?

Have they even drilled?

To me you appear to be a fraudulent anti drill  protester with no hard facts to support your case.

Comment by Greg Smith on January 31, 2013 at 10:56am


Comment by Tom R on January 31, 2013 at 10:15am

The ATGAS 2 incident Gary P refers to happened around May 19, 2011. I know it in detail as my house is less than 2,000 feet from the well. When it happened the closest homes were offered an evacuation option, I believe only 3 actually took it and only one stayed away for more than one day. CHK implemented an extensive water well testing program that continued for months. With the exception of temporary effects on one shallow dug well directly downhill from the drill site no impact was found by the CHK testing program or the DEP. The only documented damage to wildlife was the death of frogs in a small pond (really, more like a large puddle) within 500' of the well head. No long term contamination has been found by the DEP after a one year investigation.

Comment by Richard Droske on January 31, 2013 at 9:16am

Sorry Gary,

You have done nothing but quote a mess of unproven speculative remote possibilities of harm.

Show proof of real harm that has occurred  or just continue to look like silly whiner who did not own land that gas companies wanted to lease and is somehow unable to get lucrative employment in the industry.

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