Anti-fracking filmmaker accused of falsehoods

Michael Bastasch | Contributor

The filmmaker behind the controversial “Gasland” series faces another accusation of misleading the public.

In an interview with Aspen Public Radio, Josh Fox became flabbergasted when he was confronted about more falsehoods in the part one of his anti-fracking documentary.

A frustrated Fox asked the interviewer with KAJX radio to go “off the record” so he could explain why he misrepresented a gas contract from a coalition of Pennsylvania landowners to a gas company in his first Gasland film. The host didn’t let him.

The contract he displays in the film was not an offer from a natural gas company, but a draft of a lease from the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, which was offered to gas companies in order to get the property owners a more favorable deal.

Fox told KAJX that he was part of NWPO, saying “we were part of that leasing pool” to the surprise of the radio host. The Pennsylvania landowners group says this is false.

Fox wanted to establish a personal stake in the debate over hydraulic fracturing — which involves injecting water, sand, and some chemical fluids into the ground to crack open rock formations to release natural gas.

“In an unedited interview by Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher on August 8th, Josh Fox claimed that he was part of the Northern Wayne Property Owner’s Alliance and partook in the lease negotiations,” NWPO said. “In fact, Josh Fox was never a member of the NWPOA, as we have since pointed out to Elise Thatcher, who seemed interested in the new information.”

The misleading lease was first pointed out by Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer in the documentary “FrackNation.” McAleer pointed out two typos on the lease agreement shown by Fox, which indicated it was not from a gas company but from NWPO.

“Ironically when you look at Gasland… they have a scene where they are zooming in on the alleged original lease,” NWPO’s Marian Schweighofer told McAleer in his film. “It is our lease. It is an NWPO lease draft that we had written and it’s blackened out, but it’s ours, not one that a company offered him.”

However, Fox fired back at “FrackNation” saying it was a “willfully deceitful project” and that it didn’t deserve a place in the fracking debate, but admitted he had never seen the film.

This is not the first time that Fox has been caught misleading viewers about fracking in his films.

Last month, reports came out that Fox’s “Gasland Part II” used a hoax to mislead viewers about the dangers of fracking on water supplies. The film contains a scene where a Texas landowners is able to light the content of his garden hose on fire, supposedly showing that the water was contaminated by nearby oil and gas operations.

A Texas court ruled that the hose scene was a hoax crafted by an environmental activist engaged in a prolonged battle with a local gas company.

 

In Fox’s short film “The Sky is Pink,” the filmmaker claims that breast cancer rates spiked in an area of the Barnett Shale where extensive drilling operations are taking place. However, there has been no such spike in breast cancer rates, according to researchers.

The Associated Press reported: “David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred. … And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.”

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