West Liberty University's Economics Club stirs up academic debate in our community -- by screening a controversial documentary in our area.
About a hundred or so turned out at West Liberty University's Highlands Center to watch "FrackNation", a film by Irish journalist Phelim McAleer. He bills the documentary as "pro-truth and pro-investigative journalism." McAleer believes issues raised by environmentalists concerning fracking don't hold up to scrutiny.
"Regarding fracking -- environmentalists are not telling the truth," McAleer said. "Regarding fracking -- environmentalists are exaggerating, misrepresenting, spreading myths, lies, half-truths -- scare stories -- but there's no science. When you examine all these 'scare stories', you realize they're just that -- 'scare stories.'"
Some in the audience took issue with that perspective. During a question and answer session held after the film finished, Eric Fenster spoke to McAleer. "I see the traffic, the pipelines tearing up the countryside," Fenster said. He went on to assert McAleer's film did not address the issue of fossil fuel use, concluding, "The film is trash."
McAleer defends his film. In an interview before the question and answer session, he tells of his previous experiences working as a journalist with the Financial Times in eastern Europe, the Sunday Times of London, and The Economist. He's spent the last two years looking at fracking.
"I wanted to do some journalism on fracking," McAleer says. "I saw that other people were lying, and misrepresenting the situation. I thought, 'This is a good subject for some real, honest, journalism.' So I decided to put fracking and environmentalism under the microscope of journalism. And fracking comes out okay, but environmentalism comes out badly."
People such as Fenster remained unconvinced by the film. Speaking directly to McAleer at the session after the screening, Fenster said, "It's a propaganda piece, that goes with the best ever made."
McAleer responded laconically. "Is there a question in there?"