FrackNation / Gasland Showdown of the Century in Callicoon, NY

Picture 5Betty Sutliff
Wayne County Landowner
Member of Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance


Betty Sutliff, retired school teacher and landowner contrasts Gasland Part II with FrackNation, finding the former brought out the usual suspects, while the latter brought a more serious mix of individuals simply interested in the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

A journalistic duel played out on the streets of Callicoon on June 8th. Academy award nominee and HBO backed Manhattanite, Josh Fox, vs. people funded Kickstarter backed Irishman, Phelim McAleer – a regular David (McAleer) vs. Goliath (Fox) scenario. The theater where Gasland Part II was being shown appeared to be filled to capacity.

As I observed that crowd, however, it appeared to me that, for the most part, Josh was preaching to his choir while strumming his banjo. With few exceptions, the participants had “the look” of aging Woodstockers and/or their offspring, the Occupiers. Not much diversity and not many locals, just a lot of designer clad folks from the city attempting to look poor/countryish.

On the other hand, the showing of FrackNation at the Sidetracks tavern realized a fraction of the crowd next door. Perhaps it was because most of the pro gas folks are not artisans from out of town and they actually own land upon which they have to work and pay taxes. It was rather disappointing to witness the indoctrination of hundreds of people at the theater while only a relative handful came to Sidetracks to hear the truth.


One gentleman, though, had a novel idea and viewed FrackNation while his wife viewed Gasland II. During the Q&A, this semi-skeptic was able to ask Phelim many questions about chemicals and water safety. The gentleman also heard firsthand testimony from someone in the audience who, like Phelim, had been to Dimock and talked to the next door neighbors of Craig and Julie Sautner about their water and its safety. This person also had had the privilege of touring a Cabot well site, not from a distance, but actually on site and witnessed firsthand how carefully and easily the flowback water was treated.

Then a real breath of fresh air blew through Sidetracks. Three high school students from a nearby school walked out of Gasland Part II and came next door to talk to Phelim. The reasons they gave for leaving Gasland were that it was boring and that Josh Fox was unfairly condescending of Phelim McAleer as a journalist. These fresh faced students had seen FrackNation and Gasland in their school and weren’t sure what to think.

Investigating the matter firsthand rather than falling victims to indoctrination, the students were able to talk to Phelim directly and see what true investigative journalism was all about. They learned that the whole premise upon which the original Gasland was based consisted of three fabrications encompassed in this statement: A gas company offered Josh Fox $4,750 an acre to lease his land (there was no such offer, it wasn’t Fox’s land and he couldn’t have received that price from any company under any circumstances).

So, there is hope for the future with bright, articulate, students like these who were putting their critical thinking skills to good use! (BTW, they didn’t have the Occupier look). And, kudos to their school for showing both films, a must for all schools in order to be fair and balanced. Will there be a FrackNation II in Phelim’s future? Phelim didn’t think this is necessary. Having seen Gasland Part II, Phelim remarked that there really wasn’t any new content in it, but that it was just a revisitation of the original Gasland. That being said, McAleer appeared to agree with the students. Gasland Part II is boring.

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  1. Pingback: Marcellus & Utica Shale Story Links: Tue, Jun 11, 2013 | Marcellus Drilling News

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