Guest Blog: The ‘Other’ Side of the Hydraulic Fracturing Debate
***Cross posted from WSPA.org
It doesn’t feature international movie stars, enjoy nationwide commercial distribution, or have multi-million dollar backing from major Hollywood studios and wealthy investors. But “FrackNation,” a new documentary produced on a shoestring budget funded by thousands of small donations could emerge as a powerful voice in the escalating debate over a technology that has the potential to rehabilitate our economy, create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and provide the United States and California with energy security for years to come.
According to a January 21 Associated Press article New documentary targets critics of fracking, “FrackNation” challenges the cinematic allegations promoted by opponents of hydraulic fracturing in widely distributed productions such as “Gasland” and the more recent “Promised Land.”
In what the New York Times described as a “methodically researched” effort, “FrackNation’s” producers bring to the screen information that raises serious questions about highly emotional but scientifically undocumented claims about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on the environment, water quality and human health.
For example, “FrackNation” includes an interview with a respected UC Berkeley researcher who stated firmly there is no link between hydraulic fracturing and cancer. The film also documents the fact that areas in which the process is employed remain largely beautiful, with only the brief visual presence of wells and equipment.
Of great significance as well are the conversations with numerous rural residents who testify as to the economic benefits they’ve enjoyed as a result of leasing their land to natural gas drillers, at least one of which stated that his water and land were not harmed by a nearby gas well.
WSPA’s position on hydraulic fracturing is well known and well documented: in the 60 years that the practice has been in use in California, there has been no evidence that it has caused harm to public health or to the environment. Hydraulic fracturing is also subject to strict rules and oversight by various government agencies, with the industry working with regulators to further strengthen safety and transparency requirements.
And many independent economists and analysts have concluded that hydraulic fracturing can produce enough energy to meet not only the needs of American consumers but to make us a leading exporter, freeing us from dependence on unstable foreign sources, and ushering in a new era of prosperity which may solve many of our nation’s and our state’s fiscal challenges.
The public deserves to hear both sides of the hydraulic fracturing issue, and not just through the eyes of the entertainment industry. “FrackNation” has clearly struck a nerve with the Hollywood anti-fracking crowd. The producer of “Gasland” apparently refused to defend his version when given the opportunity by “FrackNation’s” producers.
“FrackNation” brings necessary fact-based balance to the public conversation on hydraulic fracturing. And importantly, it was made without the support of the oil and gas industry – the producers refused contributions from oil and gas companies and their executives.