By Bob van der Valk
TERRY, MONTANA – The word “passionate” is the one word comes to mind immediately upon first meeting documentary filmmaker Ann McElhinney. She shared her current passion explaining hydraulic fracturing or shale oil and gas by showing a sneak peak of her film “FrackNation” to a crowd of over 50 people.
The event was held Thursday night, April 12th at the MidRivers community meeting room in Glendive, MT, which was hosted by “The Eastern Montana Patriots Organization” (TEMPO) and sponsored by the “Montana Policy Institute” (MPI).
Carl Graham, who is the CEO of MPI and made the introduction of Ann McElhinney, said she was asked to speak to the mostly Eastern Montana audience in attendance to raise awareness about hydraulic fracturing and its consequences.
“Competing documentaries are made from different viewpoints,” is how Ann McElhinney describes the film she and her husband are in the middle of making. “FrackNation”will be about the oil industry’s safe practices of hydraulic fracturing known as fracking.
It will also respond to “Gasland,” a film made by Josh Fox, which raised concerns about the safety of hydraulic fracturing. It shows the purported affects in areas of our country where methane is released along with the drinking water with hydraulic fracking. This affect of nature has been occurring in the area of the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania for the last 400 years.
The Glendive presentation was her only stop in Montana after she toured the area around the Bakken and Three Forks oil shale developments. She has already given presentations in Minot and Bismarck, ND before heading home for Hollywood and back with her husband Phelim Mcaleer, who is the co-producer of their latest documentary.
“Towns like Glendive, Baker, Circle and Terry are going to have their growing pains, but I don’t think anyone wants the oil production to go away”. Most of the people she met on her tour have given her great encouragement to go through with her project in order to straighten out the misinformation being published by the environmentalist groups who are against any kind of fossil fuel production.
McElhinney pointed out major discrepancies featured in “Gasland”. She told her very attentive Glendive crowd how the water in Dimock, PA has been flammable for hundreds of years. Controversy has been brewing between the eleven families suing the oil companies and the other 1500 families not willing to join the class action lawsuit and the negative publicity brought on by all the media attention from the GasLand film.
McElhinney also commented about the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling frequently against hydraulic fracturing and just reversed its decisions in Pavillion, WY, Fort Worth, TX, and Dimock, PA. The anti-fracking ruling and threat or huge potential fines are costing the oil and gas exploration millions of dollars in legal costs.
McElhinney and her husband produced several other documentaries debunking environmentalists’ cases against different issues, such as mining in Romania.
She sought out the Sierra Club, GreenPeace and the National Wildlife Association for special skepticism in their well funded attempts to halt all oil drilling anywhere to make the US no longer dependent on fossil fuels. Her question to them is: “If not fossil fuels, then what do we use for our daily energy consumption?”
The premiere of the movie “The China Syndrome” coincided with the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant disaster. It doomed nuclear energy as one of the alternative energy sources for the immediate future and not one new nuclear power plant has been built since March 1972.
“Environmentalists are terrifying average people with well made movies and making documentaries presenting untrue facts, which are easily debunked with the truth.”
Ann McElhinney saved her real harsh words about Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) current dealings with sustainability. Sustainability has emerged as a result of significant concerns about the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid population growth, economic growth and consumption of our natural resources.
In its early years, EPA acted primarily as the nation’s environmental watchdog, striving to ensure that industries met legal requirements to control pollution. In subsequent years, EPA began to develop theory, tools, and practices that enabled it to move from controlling pollution to preventing it.
Today EPA aims to make sustainability the next level of environmental protection by drawing on advances in science and technology to protect human health and the environment, and promoting innovative green business practices.
Greg Cross, owner of Cross Petroleum in Glendive, MT, attended this sneak preview. He commented after the presentation: “The movie is not yet set for release but the promo was excellent. The lessons learned are simple; the anti-fossil fuels crowd is winning the propaganda battle as most of the pro- side is busy making a living and most important we can win IF we can maximize our involvement in social networking, i.e. Twitter and FaceBook to make our opinions known we can make a difference.”
He further said: “My thoughts are that we should have a break-out session during our convention to set up and teach us how to take advantage of this opportunity. Frack Nation tweeted and FaceBooked to raise almost $250,000 in a very short time to finance their documentary on Kickstarter.com. We first need someone to teach us in layman’s terms how to Tweet and FaceBook on a computer or smart phone.”
Matt Damon, the actor, and Gus Van Sant, a prominent director, are making an anti-fossil propaganda film this summer which will likely become another Oscar nominee like Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”. The latter created fear in people about climate change having an immediate affect on our lives if we continue to depend on fossil fuels as our mainstay. Ann McElhinney and Phelim Mcaleer may also be nominated for an Oscar and perhaps even the Nobel Peace Prize for being so passionate about such a controversial subject as the telling of the real story behind hydraulic fracking.
Donations for the making of this documentary are still being accepted but the producers want to maintain full transparency and keep their film free from special interests. Monies to fund this project are not being accepted from oil companies or any of their senior executives. FrackNation is an independent film, wants to remain independent of the oil and gas production industry.