Sunday, December 28, 2014

Gas wars: FrackNation backers dare Gasland director to Main Line showdown

Will fracking fighter Josh Fox debate Phelim McAleer, director of a rival frack-positive film?

Gas wars: FrackNation backers dare Gasland director to Main Line showdown

Filmmaker Josh Fox on his Pa. land. His fears about Marcellus Shale drilling inspired the documentary. (Michael Rubinkam / Associated Press)
Filmmaker Josh Fox on his Pa. land. His fears about Marcellus Shale drilling inspired the documentary. (Michael Rubinkam / Associated Press)

A group of Philadelphia-area businesses led by companies that sell legal, accounting and PR services to energy companies exploiting the natural gas deep in the Marcellus Shale formation in upstate Pennsylvania today posted the following challenge directed to "Josh Fox, producer of the anti-fracking films GASLAND and GASLAND II:

"Dear Mr. Fox:

"Since 2010, your documentary film GASLAND has impacted public opinion about the natural gas industry and hydraulic fracturing. The film called into question the natural gas industry’s commitment to safety, environmental responsibility, and even the economic benefit of natural gas development.

"Now comes FrackNation, a film produced as a response to GASLAND. The movie counters many of the points raised in your film with commentary gleaned from on-the-ground interviews with land owners in Pennsylvania, as well as scientists and politicians who take a different view from yours.

"Two weeks ago, we invited you to attend the Philadelphia premiere of FrackNation and then debate its director, Phelim McAleer. An open forum such as this would let both those who agree and those who disagree with you gain further insight into one of the controversial issues of our day: How does one balance environmental concerns with the unprecedented opportunity for Pennsylvanians and Americans in general presented by the abundant natural gas in the Marcellus Shale? It would also allow you to answer the questions that Mr. McAleer has raised about your film.

"Our invitation remains open. We would love to host this debate in an open forum in front of an audience of citizens, some of whom support fracking and others who do not. As a documentarian, filmmaker and an environmental activist, we hope you share our view of the benefit that such a public dialogue will provide for the people of Pennsylvania, giving them the facts on both sides so that they can make their own informed decisions.

"As stated in our letter to you of March 13, 2013, we want to be transparent. The evening is being sponsored by the Delaware Valley Marcellus Association, a group of businesses located in Southeast Pennsylvania favoring the responsible development of the Marcellus Shale. The purpose of the debate would be to, in an open forum and atmosphere of mutual respect, fully air the controversial issues surrounding Marcellus Shale development. We hope that you will accept our invitation.

 "The Philadelphia premiere of FrackNation will be held on April 10, 2013 at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute in Bryn Mawr, PA at 7 p.m. Tickets, which are $10 in advance or $15 on the night of the show, are available at http://www.marcellusdelval.org/register-for-fracknation. Students will be free at the door with their student ID. If Mr. Fox accepts the Delaware Valley Marcellus Association’s invitation, debate with Mr. McAleer will take place immediately after the screening at approximately 8:10 pm. The event is being held by the Delaware Valley Marcellus Association, a pro-development group of businesses located in Southeast Pennsylvania."

FrackNation says it was funded by more than 3,000 contributors via Kickstarter. The DV Marcellus Association calls itself "a new business conduit between gas development companies operating in the Marcellus Shale and the Philadelphia region’s rich trove of potential business partners. Founding members of the association include KPMG LLP, Duane Morris LLP, Gregory FCA, and ShaleDirectories.com."

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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