Appalachian Basin

FrackNation Targeted By Activists Before It Even Releases

The independent documentary, FrackNation, is set to be released to the public on January 22, but with only one private showing under its belt, has already received threats from anti natural gas activists.

It’s kind of funny when you think about it.

A documentary is set to be released by three journalists who have sought to learn the truth about natural gas development and how affected residents really feel about it. They want to report on the process of development, and have made their film with zero monetary help from either the industry they were investigating or organizations opposed to it (as was the case with Gasland, which has received major funding from the Park Foundation). Instead, they’ve made the film, FrackNation, by seeking backing directly from the public through a donation site called KickStarter. They’ve received donations from over 3,300 individuals across the world who wanted an unbiased look at this controversial topic.

Now, along come activists challenging even the promotion of the film, one doing no more than what they claim Josh Fox was doing with Gasland?  They have pressed You Tube to remove even the movie trailer from its site, using the strategy so often employed by other side, which is to not just articulate disagreements with your opponents, but to complete silence them before they’ve even seen the movie itself.  Why not wait for the film to be released?  Why the double standard?  Why not simply debate the issues, fact for fact?  Why are these activists challenging YouTube to remove a trailer when they could be making arguments?  Is it that they lack compelling arguments, or are they trying to undercut the movie before they’ve even seen it?  Now, those are some interesting questions.

SautnerGate Resurfaces

It all goes back to something we deemed SautnerGate a few months ago, where we took a video put up by activist Lisa Barr and offered a transcript of the key parts. The video showed the EPA giving water test results to a family formerly of Dimock, the Sautners.  Julie and Craig Sautner, who had been somewhat permanent fixtures in the public eye when it came to the Dimock debate, known usually as “the brown juggers,” were told their water passed all tests.  The video captured their reaction.  Shockingly–well maybe not so shockingly given the individuals involved–instead of being elated at having yet another government agency say their water was fine, they threw an all out temper tantrum.  Lisa Barr, thinking it would help the Sautner case, put it out on the internet for the world to see, making it publicly available.

The producers of FrackNation, quickly realized this display summed up the entire Dimock debate in one 30+ minute video, parts of which which they chose to use in their first trailer for their film.

We all have free speech…until you don’t agree with me.

Now, these two individuals who put themselves in the public eye over and over again to fuel an agenda, aren’t so keen on being in the spotlight anymore and are demanding the producers remove the trailer. YouTube has even threatened to comply as you can read about in this article.

One of the producers, Phelim McAleer, had this to say about the situation:

I decided to make ‘FrackNation’ documentary because Josh Fox – the director of the anti-fracking documentary ‘GasLand’ forced YouTube to remove one of my previous films challenging his inaccurate claims about ‘burning water.’ It seems that anti-fracking activists don’t want debate or dissent – they want to silence criticism and questions.

And, that’s exactly what’s been occurring. We reported previously on a debate that’s been ongoing regarding who is allowed to comment on various websites and Facebook pages.  There are those, such as Gasland’s site, that won’t allow differing opinions.  Then there was ShaleShock Media’s website, which resorted to outright deceit by completely substituting their own words for comments submitted by our own Joe Massaro, giving an entirely false statement of what he said.

We’ve also been criticized, of course, for Truthland because it showed existing water problems and offered a different opinion than Gasland.  And, now, the industry is being criticized by activists for using the flop of a movie, Promised Land, as a means to introduce real facts into the debate through a Marcellus Shale Coalition advertisement played before the movie, and a website and Facebook page, The Real Promised Land. 

It shouldn’t go unnoticed the Facebook page for The Real Promised Land, has surpassed the number of fans of the movie showing the public wants to have a meaningful discourse on natural gas development that goes beyond the shrill accusations of naturalo gas opponents.

It’s no surprise then that a film shedding light on the true impacts of natural gas development in the United States, the Marcellus Shale, and yes, in Dimock, would meet opposition from those same activists. Here’s what one well-know activist, Bill Huston, said on FrackNation’s Facebook page:

I believe in free speech, but what you are doing is INDUSTRIAL HARASSMENT. HARASMENT IS NOT PROTECTED SPEECH.

Industrial harassment?  What’s that?  Well, apparently, it’s anybody who dares to disagree with natural gas opponents raising their voices.

This film is not associated with the natural gas industry.  While we are obviously fans of the message and anxious to promote it for this reason, no gas industry money was used to produce it and no one from the industry had any role in crafting that message.  We were, in fact, as surprised as anyone at some of what was in it, especially the Carol Collier and Julie Sautner scenes.

More to the point, how is that two individuals who have made a public spectacle of themselves for years, suddenly don’t want their image displayed beyond the internet…where anyone can already see it.  Isn’t it strange this is what’s happening after they’ve relocated to another gas rich area in New York complete with another natural gas lease?  How many videos does Bill Huston have of them speaking on his blog and YouTube channel?  Google “Craig Sautner” and you get 6,290 hits, many of them videos, yet he’s turned camera shy?  Explain that one, please.  How is it a video put out for public consumption by their friends to help them make their case is not fair game for others to use in criticizing them?

I haven’t seen FrackNation yet, but I’d like to do so. I understand Julie Sautner is filmed in the movie threatening to sic the NRDC on FrackNation producer Phelim McAleer while waving her gun permit.  Can’t miss that.  I also plan to go to see Promised Land, as my co-workers have done, because you can’t really comment on something you haven’t seen and I like to form my own opinions. If you feel the same way, show some support and ask YouTube to leave the trailer up and allow any future ones to be shown. Let’s have some real discourse on this topic.


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