Fracking Films Reflect Twists in Drilling Debate

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The boom in natural gas drilling has cast two opposing documentary filmmakers in unlikely roles.

Josh Fox, a liberal environmental activist, finds himself at odds with President Barack Obama. Phelim McAleer, a free-market conservative, is echoing the Democratic president's support for natural gas.

The two don't see eye-to-eye on much of anything, especially each other.

"He's a very skillful filmmaker," McAleer said of Fox. "He's one of the most trusted scientists in America at the moment, even though he has zero qualifications. I don't accept that, but a lot of Americans do."

Fox, in an email to The Associated Press, said McAleer "is not a credible source of information" and is "a climate change denier."

Their dueling documentaries — the sequel to Fox's Oscar-nominated "Gasland" aired July 8 on HBO and McAleer's "FrackNation" aired the following night on AXS — have clear aims when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the gas drilling method by which chemical-laced fluid is injected into the earth to free natural gas trapped deep underground.

Experts say the pro- and anti-drilling movements represented by the filmmakers each have some good points — even though Fox claims the process is an environmental and public health disaster while McAleer says Fox distorts facts and ignores the benefits of drilling.


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CJ | Jul. 24, 2013
Is it possible that the left wing environmentalists who oppose fracking have been unknowingly influenced or funded by middle-eastern powers? For instance, the activist movie Promise Land with Matt Damon was funded by the Saudis. That makes Matt their bitch. Also, why do the anti-fracking activists not want to look for solutions to the supposed problems? The only way they will be satisfied is to completely shut down fracking. There is no compromise or middle ground. If it could be 100% proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that fracking could be made to not even damage a single blade of grass, these idiots would still want it banned. It all seems really sinister and I cant personally relate to such ignorance. Pure emotion, perhaps.

Guy McClung III | Jul. 24, 2013
Assume as true all the SCOTUS cases which have extended the federal governments power on the basis that something affects interstate commerce, eg privately growing a few ears of corn for your personal consumption or running a BBQ restaurant near an interstate highway, and it appears likely that a progressive court will strike down individual state efforts to ban fracking. Couple that with 1. federal studies that show no impact on the water table [fracking occurs way below, sometimes miles below ground water) and 2. the money, and it appears certain that fracking is here to stay. Guy McClung, San Antonio TX, J.D., Ph.D. ps: did I give enough emphasis to the money?

AJ | Jul. 23, 2013
Fox is your typical "TREE HUGGING LIBERAL" Ive worked on Drilling Rigs as a roughneck/Motorman/Derricks/AD, this guy dont know squat Ive lost count on how many GAS WELLS Ive drilled over the last 36 yrs. but its been a few and I have never seen anyone come down with any kind of an illness!! someone needs to tell this YAHOO armchair oilfield expert to take his documentreies and stick em where the sun dont shine? cant stand people who want to kill "JOBS" and the oil/gas business.I f people dont like it pack your stuff and leave the country.

Keith Patton | Jul. 22, 2013
Fox is a quack, a liberal who professes scientific qualifications based on his zealotry for an agenda and nothing more. He is a naive name-caller as if calling McAleer a "climate change denier" would automattically erase any qualifications he might have, kind of like race-baiters calling an opponent a "racist". It shows techniques of debate used to fill a vacuum where an intellect should be. I think it is somewhat amusing that being a "good filmaker" is qualifcations for anything. The Nazis made some pretty good films about their race theory and showing comparisons between the Untermench in Eastern Europe and Aryan Nation of Germany. It didnt make any of it true. As a geologist of over 30 years experience I know that most of the HBO viewers will believe the crap Fox is selling because they dont know any more about earth science than they do brain surgery. Hell, when I tell people Im a geologist, they say, "Oh, just like Indiana Jones!". I have to correct them and explain the difference between an archaeologist and a geologist. It demonstrates the average level of ignorance. How can one expect them to know that fracking takes place thousands of feet below fresh water bearing zones in most places, and that all fluids in the deeper zones are brine. It is like talking to the preverbial bucket of rocks. Fox is the worst kind of propagandist, blinded by his own agenda and certain he is in the right. A combination enviro-theologist fanatic. Nothing will dissuade him from his beliefs, especially the truth.


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