Three Fracking Documentaries

Over the past month I’ve watched three documentaries about fracking–Gasland 1 (2010) & 2 (2013) and Fracknation (2013). Here are a few thoughts.

1) No single documentary tells the whole story. Even two is insufficient. And three… | Neither talked about the toxic waste that must be dealt with (see Michigan).

2) Every documentary maker can sell his or her side by only presenting supporting info, disregarding anything that counters or complicates the preferred views. | Fox (Gasland) only looks at people who have had wells fail. McAleer (Fracknation) disregards the stats of how many wells are known to fail. Each makes it sounds like they are 100 percent right.

3) I’m disappointed that both sides weren’t more forth-coming and open. | Fox should have acknowledged that methane has been in some wells before fracking started. McAleer should have acknowledged that some wells didn’t have methane until fracking started. | Also, Fox could have used a better prop for his “contract,” and McAleer should have realized the prop doesn’t matter; what matters is the truth of whether or not Fox received a bid for drilling (and this is a minor point, but media people making a big deal out of small points bothers me). | Fox didn’t note the many environmental guidelines that control fracking. McAleer didn’t note the exemptions from certain guidelines that fracking does enjoy.

4) Truth can be hard to find (see the cigarette industry’s extended efforts to confuse the public about the health risks of smoking). | McAleer’s summary at the end of Fracknation attempts to discount every aspect of Gasland, but he does this in too broad of strokes and without considering the info shown in Gasland 2, info he could have known before that film was released. Resorting to claims that Putin is behind the anti-fracking movement is mind-boggling.

5) Every source of energy has negative consequences. I think that was one of the most honest statements in the three films (from Gasland 1). | Fox looks at only the negatives of fracking, while McAleer only looks at the positives. Then McAleer shines a light on the negative aspects of other “clean” energy sources, ignoring the negative effects of fracking and other sources of energy like fossil fuels. We must admit that all energy sources have positives and negatives, and we need to do the hard work of honestly accounting for each. We know that only renewable energy will be with us moving forward; as far as we’re able, let us strive to invest in energy that is both clean and renewable. And let us reduce our power usage as much as possible, knowing that every source has negative aspects.

Filmmakers, I expect more of you!


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