Indiana, PA - Indiana County

COLLEEN DONOVAN: 'FrackNation' can serve as grass-roots catalyst

on April 09, 2013 11:00 AM

In his April 4 letter, Michael Knapp, vice president of land and public relations of MDS Energy Ltd., promotes the film “FrackNation” by Northern Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer and his wife, co-producer Ann McElhinney, to be shown in Indiana on Thursday.

The people of Indiana might consider themselves fortunate to be a part of this filmmaker’s tour of the state. According to the April 1 article, “Phelim McAleer storms across PA with FrackNation screenings” in the Marcellus Drilling News, the filmmaker’s tour also extends into Ohio (marcellusdrilling. com/2013/04/phelim- mcaleer-storms-across-pa-with-fracknation-screenings/).

But “FrackNation” has already made the rounds with a number of high-profile showings, such as this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where his wife, Ann McElhinney, was “voted the most popular speaker after Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter” (Bio. Ann McElhinney, 2013 PA Leadership Conference, www.paleadershipconfer ence.org/speaker-bios/30- bio-ann-mcelhinney).

Thus, the people of Indiana are lucky to have the opportunity to meet such illustrious speakers. Just Google their names and you will find that McAleer and McElhinny are in demand as speakers and presenters at meetings and organizations with ties to the fossil fuel industries. They have, after all, under their belts the 2009 film “Not Evil Just Wrong” that got to the bottom of Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” about global warming.

I imagine that someone like Knapp, a public relations officer for a gas-drilling company, is grateful for McAleer, who has come along to “get to the bottom of the claims in (Josh Fox’s) ‘Gasland.’”

Apparently, the thrust of the film “FrackNation” is to undermine Fox’s credibility. As Knapp claims, Fox cannot possibly know anything about gas extraction because he is from Manhattan.

But I wonder if this straw man technique is enough to persuade the good people of this region and the nation as a whole who understand that the interests of future generations are at stake. After all, we can see with our own eyes the effects of the fossil fuel industry on the quality of air and water in our region and beyond, not to mention changes in worldwide climate. While film documentaries are effective, there are myriad ways that people can inform themselves about issues that matter.

Still, the people of Indiana can take advantage of this moment to become part of the discussion about gas extraction in our region. On Thursday, we have the opportunity to participate in a grass-roots effort as represented by the film “FrackNation.”

Colleen Donovan

Indiana

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