To Frack or Not to Frack, That is the Question

Bruce Bialosky

3/23/2014 12:01:00 AM - Bruce Bialosky

Five years ago almost no one knew the term – Fracking. Today it is one of the hottest topics in America and has become one of our hottest political footballs. The question is whether the fracking process harms underground water. It depends on who you ask.

Josh Fox received money from HBO to make a movie called Gasland. The documentary reached great heights as it was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary based on a small theatrical release. Josh Fox, a little known theater director, became a darling of the anti-fracking movement. The highlight of his film was a scene where a resident of Dimock Township, Pennsylvania, lit his water on fire. That would scare most people and it certainly did. It left critics questioning the viability of the fracking process. Except for some Irish filmmakers

Previously, Ann McElhinney had made documentaries for the BBC, CBC (Canada) and RTE (Ireland). McElhinney and her team had made two prior movies about what McElhinney characterized as “environmental scares.” After seeing Gasland, they decided that they needed to look into the matter.

What they found was water in major portions of America can be lit on fire. That is because it contains hydrocarbons. They found this from simple research. What they also found was that fracking is not some new thing. It has been going on since it originated in Kansas in 1947 – not exactly new technology. What has changed is that new technology has allowed for drilling that is horizontal once you drill down, allowing one well to access a much broader area.

So they set out to make a movie because they had doubts about the claims made in Gasland. The movie they made is FrackNation, which recently debuted in theaters in Los Angeles and New York. The movie has not received a fond reception amongst the anti-fracking crowd. That crowd made a claim the film was funded by you know who - the Koch brothers. As the producers delineate in the film, all of the money was raised on Kickstarter. If you go to the website you can see that as of March 2, 2014, they raised $212,266 for the project.

The FrackNation team went to Dimock to find out what the facts were there. The people interviewed in Gasland were a small group who were part of a lawsuit against people doing oil and gas development in the local area. Many of the remainder of the Township was interviewed by FrackNation which found out the facts were a little different. These people wanted the development. They stated that the elements in the water had been in their wells for as long as they can remember. The principal couple in the lawsuit and the ones who set their water on fire had their water analyzed by the state environmental unit. They found nothing wrong with the water. The EPA analyzed their water twice and found no problems with it. FrackNation filmed the reporting of the EPA to the local couple who reacted violently as they had during a chance encounter with the filmmakers on a local road.

When FrackNation attempted to interview Josh Fox about their findings, he refused to answer questions. Josh Fox initially questioned the filmmakers’ credentials and then ignored them.

An interesting part of the film was when they diverted to discuss the benefits of the oil and gas being produced by the new findings -- not just the jobs, but the overall effects on our economy. Concurrently, we have been confronted with new geopolitical realities as Russia steps on the Ukraine. The Russians hold sway over the country largely because of supplying natural gas to them. What would be if the United States flooded the world with newly developed sources that would take that weapon out of Putin’s hands? What if we spread the process of fracking to other nations like Mexico, thus freeing them from the yoke of supplies from anti-Democratic suppliers? What would happen to the people of Venezuela if petrodollars no longer flowed in to give their dictatorial leaders control over their lives? And then there is the Middle East.

When I asked Ms. McElhinney why she thought the Left so dislikes fracking, she stated it is because it upsets their agenda to rid the world of hydrocarbons as an energy source. She stated “The Left has grabbed on to Gasland because it scares the masses. It does not matter whether the film is factual, it fits their agenda.”

Lisa Jackson, the former Director of the EPA and no friend of oil and gas, twice – yes, twice -- testified to Congress that there is not one case of water contamination from fracking. Yet, the left continues on with the City of Los Angeles recently banning fracking in city limits until it can be proved there is no harm from the process. One would guess that after almost 70 years, over a million wells and a left-wing EPA Director testifying to Congress, if this has not convinced them then the question is what will?

FrackNation will soon be available on Netflix. Watch Gasland and FrackNation for yourself and come to your own conclusions. I did.