Gasland director defends not revealing full facts in documentary

Evidence about naturally occurring flammable water "not relevant" director tells journalist and filmmaker Phelim McAleer.

JOSH FOX, the director of Gasland, an Oscar nominated documentary, has admitted that he withheld evidence that showed gas can occur in water naturally and is not a result of fracking.Watch the exchange here:

In Gasland Fox claims that fracking, a way of drilling for gas, has polluted water so badly that it has become flammable.

In some of the most dramatic scenes in the documentary Fox shows a number of families lighting their water.

They claim that the gas has only been present in the water since gas companies started fracking a few years ago. Fracking involves retrieving gas rocks using high powered water.

However, under close questioning during a Q&A at a screening at Northwestern University Fox first denied but then admitted that scientists had found gas in water before fracking had occurred in Colorado.

Journalist and filmmaker Phelim McAleer asked him about a report from 1976 by the Colorado Division of Water which said there was a "troublesome amount of methane" in the aquifer close to two families, the Markhams and the McClures, who are featured in the documentary as having problems with their water.

Mr Fox initially denied the existence of the 1976 report, but eventually admitted that there have been reports of "flammable water" in the US since at least 1936.

He said such scientific reports were not relevant to his documentary because he believed the families and accepted their accounts of their situation.

"The point is this.. The citizens [in Colorado] reported they could not light their water on fire before the drilling. And after the drilling they could light their water on fire. (...) I don't care about reports from 1976, there are reports from 1936 that people said they could light their water on fire in New York City, but that's no bearing on this situation at all. "


Speaking after the Q&A the journalist Phelim McAleer said the exchange with Fox showed he would withhold facts that did not suit his story.

"This is another example of journalists and filmmakers showing half the story and smothering science that does not suit their narrative. Josh Fox owes it to frightened families to reveal all the facts. He should let them know that some water across the US has gas in it and always has had gas in it. It has nothing to do with fracking," he added.

"He knew about these reports but chose not to include them - that is not journalism."

PHELIM MCALEER is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. He specializes in asking difficult questions of the mainstream environmental movement. He famously had his microphone turned off for asking Al Gore some inconvenient questions about his documentary. He was threatened by an armed guard at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen for asking an activist/scientist difficult questions about Climategate and he was assaulted on live television for taking a skeptical look at the conference, He is the producer and director of Not Evil Just Wrong - a documentary which examines Global Warming.