FrackNation

Not that we really wondered what was next from journalist Phelim McAleer, the maker of such documentaries as Mine Your Own Business: The Dark Side of Environmentalism and Not Evil Just Wrong: The True Cost of Global Warming Hysteria, but here it is. The subject: fracking, that obnoxiously nicknamed method of below-ground natural gas gouging which at best has the moral valence of slipping the planet a roofie. The angle: No it doesn’t necessarily cause cancer, earthquakes, or flammable tap water, but yes it might well be a sustainable source of iffy movies.

McAleer also is that press-conference habitue who, having noted an Abu Dhabi company among producers of the anti-fracking drama Promised Land, asked Matt Damon how he felt being bankrolled by an oil-rich Middle Eastern government with financial interest in American fracking bans. The star’s first response was to wonder whether he’d just become part of McAleer’s movie too. Unfortunately not, but FrackNation does get mileage from rebutting the documentary Gasland and its lauded director-activist Josh Fox, evidently McAleer’s white whale.

For a stubborn Irishman with a highly uncool axe to grind, McAleer comes across as a pretty likable guy. He patiently explains how essential energy is to our lives, whether for smartphones and microwave pizzas or the occasional kidney transplant. He gathers Delaware River Basin famers whose livelihoods reportedly are jeopardized by a moratorium on gas drilling. And he supplies damning footage of one litigious family reacting with fury to an EPA report that their water was in fact safe for drinking after all.

Still, McAleer seems as hampered by a blindingly oppositional framework as the left-wingers whose agitprop he assails: Footage of a wind turbine killing a bird or a solar panel being made in China, for instance, doesn’t prove that fracking’s okay, let alone that its opponents are deluded or playing dirty. As to whether his list of Kickstarter funders is full of gas-industry ties, well, does that even matter with Gasland 2 coming soon under the auspices of HBO?