FrackNation Creator Phelim McAleer Fibs About Parker County's Flaming Hose Case

Categories: Film

Fracking is finally getting the Hollywood treatment. Promised Land, an anti-fracking film conceptualized by The Office's John Krasinski, co-written by Dave Eggers, starring Matt Damon and Hal Holbrook, and directed by Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting), is set in a hard-luck Pennsylvania farming town. Damon must win hearts and minds to pave the way for the "$9 billion" oil and gas company he represents, while confronting his role in changing, for good or ill, these communities forever.

See also:
-"Fire in the Hole"

It hasn't even hit theaters yet and already it's been decried as a hit job on an industry that has fundamentally transformed America's energy landscape. Reasonable minds may disagree about whether or not the film is unfair or inaccurate, but surely we can disagree without inventing facts to support our positions.

Case in point: Phelim McAleer, the pro-industry filmmaker behind FrackNation, penned an op-ed in the New York Post recently about Promised Land. To illustrate what he regards as the fecklessness of claims that fracking is hazardous to health and the environment, he points to the clean bill of health the EPA gave Dimock, Pennsylvania's, water, which had become for the anti-fracking crowd the symbol of an industry that degrades the communities it alights on.

McAleer also discusses briefly, by way of example, the case of the flaming water well in Parker County, which we've written about at length ("Fire in the Hole"). "There was Wolf Eagle Environmental Engineers in Texas, a group that produced a frightening video of a flaming house water pipe and claimed a gas company had polluted the water," he writes. "But a judge just found that the tape was an outright fraud -- Wolf Eagle connected the house gas pipe to a hose and lit the water."

The judge, in this case, has since recused himself because he bragged about sticking it to the plaintiff and water well owner, Steve Lipsky, during his failed bid for re-election. Yet that's not even the part of his statement I have a problem with. It's the allegation that Alissa Rich's Wolf Eagle attached a water hose to the house gas pipe.

No one -- not even Range Resources, the fracking company Lipsky accuses of contaminating his water well -- has ever made any such claim. This, McAleer has produced from an apparently fecund imagination. Range and the judge accused Lipsky and Wolf Eagle of attaching a hose to the head space of Lipsky's water well and passing it off as a water hose. He never said anything about a house gas line.

Neither Lipsky nor Wolf Eagle has ever denied that the hose was attached to the head space. It had to be done in order to vent the natural gas accumulating in the well head. In fact, it was the water well driller who placed it there, for safety reasons. Even the most cursory viewing of the video on YouTube makes it abundantly clear that this isn't a water hose. Nothing but flame issues from its mouth.

McAleer's claim isn't one I've ever seen, even in the most partisan corners of the commentariat. And it's certainly not one I came across in reviewing thousands of pages of court documents, nor is it one I heard in interviews with representatives of Range Resources. He simply made it up, which is unfortunate. Let's argue about fracking, by all means, but let's do it based on the facts as they are, not as we wish them to be.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Phelim simply used the wrong words in his written Op-Ed article. If you watch FrackNation, you'll clearly see that he stated:

"they intentionally pumped gas into the water line in order to set it on fire."

while the following from the actual court order is highlighted on the screen:

"intentionally attach a garden hose to a gas vent - then light and burn the gas from the end nozzle of the hose."

When Rich and Lipsky made the video, they did indeed, as this blog confirms, hook a garden hose up to a gas vent from the head of the Lipsky water well.

Emails produced in the course of the lawsuit show that Lipsky and Rich intentionally did this and represented it to be a water line (thus the reasoning behind using a garden hose) in the video in order to scare the EPA into action. Those emails also show that Rich intentionally set up air monitoring collection containers right next to the well head methane vent to skew the air test results, despite Lipsky himself raising questions as to the accurate scientific validity of such testing methodology.

Alisa Rich fraudulently misrepresented her credentials, as well as those of her business, Wolf Eagle Environmental Engineers. In all reality, when the Lipsky water and air tests were performed by Wolf Eagle, the company didn't employ any actual credentialed engineers - it was all Rich and her children. She is a fraud and an extremely biased anti-natural gas activist.

While the judge on the case may have allowed his politics to discredit himself and effectively remove him from hearing the case, his ruling on the Anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss was upheld by other courts as being correct.

People that write blogs really need to investigate the FACTS before writing and posting them all over the internet!

scottindallas topcommenter

So what, natural gas and oil are not big competitors.  Nor would their natural gas compete with our own.  Because of the temperatures involved, natural gas shipped by ship is costly, and can't compete well against pipes.   Natural gas isn't likely to make big inroads into the transportation diet either--as NGVs have limited range.  Natural Gas competes with coal and electricity, while supplying an increasing share of the fuel for electrical generation.   Further, fracking is useful in recharging old wells, which Saudi Arabia and the bigger more venerable producers are littered with.  Conventionally a well was considered spent once only have it's oil had been removed.  Saudi Arabia's oil supplies are suspect, but if they could wring more oil beyond that 50% threshold, they'd be quite interested. 


Huh. And here I thought you were going to mention how the anti-fracking film "Promised Land" filmed was bankrolled partially by one of the biggest OPEC members in the Middle East. 



Depositions from Randall Peck, Steve and Alisa don't agree with your comments. Peck attached the garden hose to the well head. Please read the deposition. Alisa states, and GPS bears this out, that the testing was done 20 ft from the well head. She sets that record strait in her deposition. Steve says in the video that the hose is connected to the well head and shows it. 

Steve and Alisa were later ruled to be exercising free right of redress by an appeals court who also removed Alisa and Shyla from the Range lawsuit. Please review.


 @scottindallas Uh, so... what's your point?   Coal going away - good thing - yes?  NG powering electric plants - not a good thing?  (Hopefully, we can change out to municipal waste powering electric plants).  Yes, of course the Saudi's are interested....yes, they have historically overstated their estimates; however, you don't hear the U.S crying foul (only the CIA); but, so what; not going to get a PL from Saudi to the U.S - only our North-African and European 'friends' will benefit, eh?.  Note; Russia is also very interested in fracking, as they still have quite a bit of oil left, not to mention NG, in their fields, as their engineers collapsed many due to their heavy-handed pumping.

Big worry - water availability in Texas and elsewhere.  There are so many issues, but I'll just pick one - when one well; note; only one well, located near Midland, is pumping ~1,600 gallons a minute with over a 100-foot cone of depression in the Ogallala (for use by the 'frackers'), do you think that's an issue?  Well... I guess the good thing is it will take the water table down so that the Simmon's nuclear waste facility in Andrews will take longer to contaminate the area.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault