What’re your thoughts on hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) in New York state?
Staunch advocates of hydrofracking have remained anxious over the snail’s-pace movement among officials charged with deciding whether to approve the extraction process.
Conversely, stalwart critics of hydrofracking have expressly viewed this issue as the tipping point and herald to a disastrous and irreversible change in global climate.
Makers of “FrackNation” are hoping that their new film will help stimulate and inform opinion on the controversial practice.
“FrackNation,” a 77-minute film, is the third by journalist Phelim McAleer. His two previous films, “Not Evil Just Wrong” and “Mine Your Own Business: The Dark Side of Environmentalism,” follow his decades-long critique of environmental movements as being surreptitiously puppeteered by foreign-money interest groups.
“The film cost $150,000 to make. The money was raised through a campaign where 3,300 people gave $212,000. It was one of the most successful documentary campaigns ever,” McAleer said.
“FrackNation” claims that it “captures the other side, dismantling the non-scientific arguments against fracking and supporting the value of domestic energy production in the U.S.” McAleer says that “FrackNation” was created as a response to the well-known but controversial “GasLand,” an anti-fracking documentary by Joshua Fox.
“I watched ‘GasLand,’ and during a Q&A with Fox, I had asked some difficult questions that were left unanswered. That led me to thinking that there is something here somebody doesn’t want me to see,” McAleer said.
So in an effort to “expose bad journalism,” McAleer said he set out to “do what journalism is all about, because powerful people want people to stop from knowing things.”
“FrackNation” is set to air on Mark Cuban’s AXS network on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 9 p.m.
Next month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is due to issue a decision on the fate of the state’s current moratorium on fracking.
Since 2010, the multi-year moratorium set by former Gov. David Paterson has kept this issue at a simmer. Now, after the scientific community has had its say regarding the process, New Yorkers, as well as residents of Pennsylvania and Delaware, await Cuomo’s decision.
Will he extend the ban, make it permanent or lift it to give gas companies the green light to “drill, baby, drill”?
Whatever Cuomo decides, hydrofracking seems likely to remain a bone of contention for New Yorkers. For advocates and opponents alike, the controversies surrounding hydrofracking and Cuomo’s upcoming decree can certainly be viewed as a choice between the state’s economic interests and its environmental concerns.
“Our foremost priority must be the protection of the watersheds providing drinking water to nearly 12 million residents of the New York City metropolitan area,” said Council Member Gale Brewer, who recently articulated her opposition to hydrofracking. “There must be no risk to the state’s drinking supply. Because the NYC watersheds provide clean, unfiltered water, special protections must be provided for them. The proposed 4,000-foot buffer is insufficient and subject to fatal exceptions: It applies only to high-volume hydraulic fracturing and allows for traditional vertical drilling or low-volume hydraulic fracturing within the boundaries of the watersheds. A larger buffer needs to be created for these areas, and all drilling activities should be banned, not just high-volume fracturing.”
McAleer told the Amsterdam News that his film discounts political perspectives and addresses fears of toxic contamination. “There has been no scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing has caused any environmental harm,” he says.
Asked what he believes to be the most misunderstood aspect of this issue, McAleer singled out “the idea that fracking causes your water to go on fire. That is untrue. The awful thing is that Fox knew that this was untrue but chose not to provide evidence. People have been lighting their tap water in America and in the world for centuries. There are places in America called burning springs. George Washington lit a river a century before fracking ever started. There’s a lot of gas down there and methane flowing in waters across America, and there always has been.”