'FrackNation' documentary examines environmental claims

On the heels of Matt Damon’s anti-fracking drama “Promised Land,” a journalist is releasing a documentary that examines whether or not fracking has negative impacts on the environment.

In “FrackNation,” journalist Phelim McAleer and filmmaker Ann McElhinney take a look at some of the criticisms of fracking and use experts and statistics to disprove some of the negative ideas associated with the controversial oil and natural gas extraction method.

For example, in the film, McAleer presents a respected cancer researcher with some of the claims that the chemicals used in fracking will cause cancer.

"If people say fracking is causing cancer, they don't know what they're talking about," University of California at Berkeley scientist Bruce Ames replies, noting that cabbage and broccoli also contain minute portions of chemicals that could technically be called carcinogens.

McAleer also highlights a family farm in Montrose, Pa., where farmer Ron White and his son say the royalties from drilling have helped keep their farm in business, adding that their water and land hadn't been harmed by a nearby gas well.

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In strictly visual terms, "FrackNation" also quietly makes a point by showing that most of the Pennsylvania countryside in drilling areas is still postcard perfect, and not the wasteland fracking opponents portray. Though drilling is an industrial process, the wells and fleets of trucks required for fracking disappear from a drilling pad after a few weeks or months, the film says.

Back in October, McAleer criticized “Promised Land.”

“If you are making claims that the movie is about the American experience than you need to make it about that,” McAleer said. “Yet they’ve twisted it so it still fits into their anti-fracking, anti-corporate ideology.”

He called the film a “ludicrous movie.”

The "FrackNation" website said McAleer’s film will in contrast “investigate the truth about fracking.”

The site also notes the film was funded via Kickstarter donations and “funds from oil and gas companies or their executives were explicitly rejected.”

"FrackNation" is scheduled to air Jan. 22 at 9pm EST on cable channel AXS.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.