Get your fracking story straight
Documentary clears up misinformation about industry, filmmaker says
The creators of a documentary that takes aim at what is described as willfully spreading misinformation about hydraulic fracturing bring their road show to the Avalon Theatre tonight.
The film “FrackNation” is set to be screened at 8 p.m., presumably to a packed house of people who scooped up the 1,000 free tickets in a matter of days.
One of the filmmakers, Ann McElhinney, will be here for the local screening, part of dozens of events planned in the coming months across the country. Events so far have been held in New York and Pennsylvania, and more than 60 screenings of the film are planned in Ohio alone.
“Obviously we have had huge interest in Colorado, where this is a huge issue,” McElhinney said, predicting that the Grand Junction screening of the film will be the biggest one held so far, based on the number of tickets already distributed.
The acclaimed film has as its mission the dismantling of another documentary, Josh Fox’s “Gasland”—a lionized 2010 film that offers a highly critical view of fracking, based mostly on environmental concerns. Many of the people who appear in “Gasland” offer anecdotes of illnesses or ailments that they, and Fox, connect directly to nearby fracking.
“That’s what ‘Gasland’ is: People saying, ‘Oh, I’ve got a sore back, or I’ve got an open sore on my leg,’ ” McElhinney said. “Unfortunately the world is full of people with bad backs and sore legs, but it’s got nothing to do with fracking.”
“This is the problem with these people — they either proceed with anecdote, or they just make stuff up,” she said, in reference to an assertion made by Fox in another film, “The Sky Is Pink.” In that short movie, Fox claimed there was a spike in breast cancer rates around the Barnett Shale area near Fort Worth, Texas — a claim roundly debunked by Texas health officials, epidemiologists and even the Susan B. Komen For the Cure foundation for breast cancer research.
“Let’s proceed with honesty. Let’s tell the truth and get all the facts out there. If there’s something wrong, let’s know about it,” she said.
“But when the opposition comes forward with stuff that’s either just plain made up, or saying things are true just because it’s anecdotal, and the person saying it is like crying or something—this isn’t journalism. It’s very entertaining, but it’s not journalism,” she said.
McElhinney and her husband, Phelim McAleer, both experienced journalists, point their critical lens at the communities Fox featured in “Gasland”—with surprising results. They also take on the wider media’s embrace of “Gasland,” which they say happened with little or no scrutiny.
The recent celebrity effort to line up against fracking is in McElhinney’s crosshairs, too. She categorizes the high-profile and trendy anti-fracking efforts of celebrities like Yoko Ono as “anti-development zealotry.”
Tickets for the free screening have already been handed out, but organizers say DVDs of the film will be available for sale for $20 at the event. People can also buy DVD copies at the studios of KREX-TV, 345 Hillcrest Dr.
McElhinney also will hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. today at Two Rivers Convention Center, an event that is open to everyone.
She especially invites dissenting opinion at these and other events. As she said in a previous interview with the Daily Caller website, “I have a lot of the facts on my side.”