Appalachian Basin

FrackNation Screened in Sullivan County Spreading The Truth

FrackNation was viewed in Sullivan County, New York last week near the homes of some celebrity activists opposed to natural gas development – activists like Mark Ruffalo, who seems unwilling to actually debate the issue with knowledgeable folks who disagree with his opinions.

I attended a FrackNation screening last week in Sullivan County, New York.  The landowner groups in Sullivan County as well as the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York held the screening at a local high school to give residents an opportunity to learn the truth about natural gas development and help them see through the deception of Gasland.

Once again, the movie was favorably received by residents as natural gas opponents failed to dent the former’s enthusiasm for something that finally tells their side of the story.

Before the screening even began it is important to note some of our friends from the other side of the debate were invited to view the documentary as well.  Matt Damon, Josh Fox, and Mark Ruffalo were all invited to the screening, or any screening for that matter, and, of course, never showed up.  Fox and Ruffalo both live just a few miles away but neither thought the event was worth attending as noted by their absence.

Phelim McAleer, FrackNation director, told the audience he had correspondence from Ruffalo informing him the actor would not be able to attend due to work obligations. McAleer told him to name a place and time and he would be sure to host a screening the Incredible Hulk could attend.  We’ll see if Ruffalo accepts but the seat reserved for him at this screening remained empty, telling us quite a bit about his willingness to actually engage in meaningful debate where the accusations and assertions of anti-natural gas activists will be questioned using facts, science and experience.

Sullivan County FrackNation Screening EID 001

There were also some landowners who joined with McAleer to invite the famous folks to come out, watch FrackNation, and engage in a discussion with Phelim.  Watch the video and take note of the sign imploring Ruffalo to join in a real debate.

Sullivan County FrackNation Screening EID 004

While Ruffalo was unable to attend, the screening attracted approximately 100 people . Bill Graby, Al Larson, and Dan Fitzsimmons were in attendance as leaders from the three sponsoring landowner groups. Phelim McAleer was there as well to answer any questions the audience might have about the movie and also to relate his personal experiences from his journey to find the truth about natural gas development in the United States.

It seemed everyone in the audience enjoyed the film and learned something from it.  There were a few people who disagreed with the message, but they, nonetheless, participated in the question and answer session and contributed to the debate.  Many attendees thanked McAleer and told him how much they truly appreciated him making the film.  The truth, they stated, needed to be told and having a film go point by point in debunking Gasland was just what was needed.

There were several Sullivan County farmers in attendance. As some of our readers may recall, the Sullivan County Farm Bureau donated funds to place a billboard in support of natural gas along nearby Route 17, and members who attended especially enjoyed the fact the film took place in their backyard.  They understood and could relate to the farmers featured in the film, who were their neighbors, after all.

One member of the audience did try to argue McAleer wasn’t providing a fair perspective in the film.  It apparently didn’t occur to this individual to ask whether Gasland was balanced.  The answer is obvious.  McAleer, to prove the point, suggested the questioner add up the total amount of time given in each film to those support and those who oppose natural gas.  McAleer gave natural gas opponents plenty of exposure in FrackNation but, unfortunately for opponents, Craig Sautner talking about two weapons grade types of uranium wasn’t what they had in mind.

Someone else in attendance brought forward a concern regarding the accountability of corporations (17:55).  McAleer countered by talking about the accountability of the Sierra Club as an example.  He noted corporations who fail to follow the law get can get fined billions of dollars but, if the Sierra Club or other environmental groups spread misinformation, they seem to just get more followers, larger protests and increased donations.

This quote of the night, from McAleer, summed it all up (17:41).

“I treat big environment the same way as big business.  So, if big environment says, ‘I have three types of uranium in my water, two of them weapons grade,’ I want to see the evidence.  If big business says, ‘the water’s clean,’ I want to see the evidence.”

McAleer also talked about  New York City’s efforts to increase natural gas utilization in the city’s power and heating grids because the fuel is convenient, cheaper, and is available when you need it.  It is important, McAleer said, to understand the people fighting against the natural gas movement are also the people using natural gas.  He also pointed out the celebrity opponents to natural gas development, such as Yoko Ono, are depriving landowners of signing bonuses and royalties, while they are buying millions of dollars in furs, heating their homes with natural gas and driving their choice of vehicles.

I spoke with one fellow after the show who demonstrates the need for continuous education on the subject of natural gas development.  He came to the screening with some pretty substantial misinformation from the other side.  He was under the impression, for instance, hydraulic fracturing was a new technology, despite its existence for over six decades and thousands of hydraulically fractured wells in New York State, none of which have contaminated anything.  Still, he told me he was interested in learning more, so, one hopes we will be able to eventually reach him despite all the fear mongering.

My final interview following the screening was with a local student who attends a community college in upstate New York.  He discussed his dreams of being able to continue producing on his family farm and his fear the farm may not sustain itself much longer.  He is getting a college education as a backup plan.  Watch his full interview below.

Overall, the FrackNation screening in Sullivan County went very well, as all of them have, in fact.  There were only a few people in attendance who did not support natural gas.  The rest came to watch, ask, listen and learn.  Who could ask for anything more?


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