Photo from 'Fracknation'
Wayne County farmer Bob Rutledge was among the several interviewed for “Fracknation” lamenting how the drilling moratorium might lead to the loss of his farm.
‘Fracknation’ draws the faithful
Story by Frank Rizzo
CALLICOON June 28, 2013 “Fracknation” is a movie with a simple aim: Debunk the facts and science presented by “Gasland” director Josh Fox.
The documentary was recently screened in competition with Fox’s “Gasland 2,” shown at the Callicoon Theatre in front of more than 300 people.
Several dozen saw “Fracknation” next door at Sidetracks Bar’s dining room.
Director Phelim McAleer answered questions after the DVD projected onto a plain white sheet had run its course
The Irish-born ex-newspaper journalist did admit that Fox’s “movies are artistic, certainly more artistic than mine.”
It was a rare show of praise in a morning in which McAleer damned Fox’s facts and motives and baleful influence on the lives of area farmers struggling to make a living and hold on to what their ancestors had created.
At the beginning of his movie, the potential benefits of hydrofracking for the nation’s energy future are detailed. Then, in the narrative, “Gasland” brings things to a halt. McAleer directly ties the movie to the drilling moratorium imposed by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).
“Thousands of farmers have had their lives ruined by a government decision made hundreds of miles away in New Jersey,” he narrates.
“(Fox) is part of the elite,” McAleer told a reporter before showing his movie, which he directed along with wife Ann McElhinney and Magdalena Segieda. “He doesn’t know and doesn’t care about the farmers. Who knows more about the area? The farmers or the rich Manhattanites?”
A number of area farmers, including Callicoon’s Bill Graby, are interviewed by McAleer. Graby is the president of the Sullivan-Delaware Property Owners Association, which sponsored the screening.
Bob Rutledge of Wayne County, PA, tells the filmmaker, “If the gas companies came in and destroyed our land, all the money in the world wouldn’t be worth it.”
He added, “I grew up here. Why would I want to sell [the land]?”
Another prominent voice in the film is farmer Marian Schweighofer, a founder of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, which has signed leases with Hess Corporation. The DRBC moratorium has prevented anything other than test wells to be drilled in Wayne County.
“There isn’t one farmer in this area that wants to be the one that will have to sell the family farm off,” Schweighofer tells the filmmaker. “There is also not one farmer in this area that isn’t afraid that isn’t afraid that they will be he generation that cannot continue to make a living on the farm.”
Next: Science and the DRBC.