A new documentary called Frack Nation premiers Tuesday at 9 p.m. on Mark Cuban's AXS tv channel. It is not boring, and it is important. It is a documentary about the dishonesty of another documentary. Stay awake and read.
Frack Nation: A Journalist's Search for the Fracking Truth, directed by Irish journalists Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, addresses the safety and world-changing benefits of fracking, the process that has greatly increased the known and recoverable reserves of natural gas and oil in the United States. This technology has destroyed the myth of limits to growth and an America running on empty. Much of what we "know" about American decline and rising energy costs and dependence on foreign nations for our energy need not be true.
But is fracking safe?
A previous documentary titled Gasland by Josh Fox made dramatic claims that fracking leads to flammable tap water. A resident shows how he can light the water from his kitchen faucet on fire. You would think the entire town was up in arms against those wishing to drill for natural gas through fracking. Or perhaps dead already from the pollution. Compelling television...
And completely dishonest.
Frack Nation follows our Irish-accented journalist Phelim McAleer as he fact-checks such assertions from Gasland. It turns out that fracking is an old technology that has been used for years and is now improved. We learn that methane gas released with well water is a common occurrence in many areas and has been for decades -- long before anyone fracked anything within a thousand miles. Josh Fox knew this and deliberately left it out of his "documentary."
Many of those with land over the shale deposits that have natural gas that can be released through fracking would like the economic benefits that flow from allowing drilling below their property. Fracking and horizontal drilling allow a much smaller footprint than previous methods of drilling for oil or natural gas. The environmental safety of fracking has been tested and proved repeatedly.
The claims of ecological ruin made in Gasland are exposed in Frack Nation as rejected by real scientists and the public servants working at the EPA.
An entire industry has grown up promoting the false claims of scarcity and inevitable declining energy sources and opportunities. They are threatened by yet another technology that has expanded our known reserves. Every generation there are those sad idiots who harass us, holding signs that proclaim that the world will end, or at least run out of energy by a date certain. The Mayans may have been first. Josh Fox is a modern plagiarizer of this "Chicken Little" dialogue. Josh Fox is caught on camera unable to defend his "work" and unwilling to answer the simplest questions about the accuracy of his film. The movie makes Josh Fox's decision to flee from debate understandable. He cannot defend what he did.
The 70-minute documentary destroys the claims made in Gasland. It eviscerates Gasland's credibility and makes clear that its director knowingly lied again and again. On the facts, the science, the conflicts of interest of its protagonists.
Frack Nation is worth seeing because it is a good film. It is funny in upending the pathetic lies of Gasland. It is fast-paced. (Is that legal in a documentary?) It is not heavy handed, self-congratulatory, or "full of itself." It breaks all the rules, or at least traditions, of the modern documentary.
It is worth watching. It has already changed the debate about our energy future for the better.
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