Ann McElhinney isn’t afraid of a good fight.
McElhinney and her husband, Phelim McAleer, routinely take it to the environmental lobby via films like “Not Evil Just Wrong.” Now, the duo is holding anti-fracking activists’ feet to the cinematic fire with “FrackNation,” a film set to debut Jan. 22 on AXS TV.
Big Hollywood checked in with McElhinney to find out more about the film and why she thinks propaganda duds like “Promised Land” can still impact the national debate on fracking.
Big Hollywood: Take us through ‘FrackNation’ — what bullet points do you think will resonate most with audiences?
Ann McElhinney: That there has never been any case of fracking polluting water and that extreme environmentalism and shoddy journalism have real-world consequences — that real people are suffering because of bans on a process that has never polluted water. I think they will also be astonished at the lies and misrepresentations of anti-fracking activists.
BH: What are the biggest misstatements/lies you see from anti-fracking groups in the media?
AM: That [fracking] is new — it is not. Fracking has been going on in America since 1947. That it has polluted water — it has not — there has never been a single proven case of water pollution caused by fracking. And don’t take my word for it. Lisa Jackson, the outgoing head of the EPA, said that, and she is no friend of oil and gas and absolutely no friend of fracking. Also people have been lighting their water long long before fracking started — there has always been gas in water in America and Josh Fox, the director of “Gasland,” knew that and chose to withhold it from his audience. That is unethical journalism by him and HBO who aired the documentary.
BH: How did the idea for the ‘lighting water’ billboards come about, and what reactions have you received so far from them?
AM: We thought it was great way to get an important message across — and it has worked. The flaming faucet fallacy is now well known. People know they were deceived by Josh Fox, HBO and Matt Damon.
BH: Discuss “Gasland” – did entertainment reporters covering and reviewing the film drop the ball here, and how?
AM: Yes, they failed to treat Big Environment in the same way they treat Big Oil. Craig Sautner said he had two types of weapons-grade uranium in his water, but they never asked him for the scientific analysis that proved it that is poor journalism. They never checked the archives of their own papers where they would have read stories about burning water from decades before fracking started.
BH: “Promised Land” had a soft first box office weekend, but could a project like this still have an impact?
AM: Yes, it can get into the culture, particularly if it wins awards. “Blood Diamond” had a relatively low box office but “conflict diamond legislation” was just passed in Congress.
BH: Have you attempted to debate Yoko Ono or other anti-fracking celebs … would you be open to such a conversation if they were?
AM: We are open to debate anyone anytime anywhere.