Actor Alec Baldwin has spoken out widely against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) -- the process used to harvest natural gas from shale rock. In his latest, he writes a guest piece on the Huffington Post's blog calling upon "Gasland" filmmaker Josh Fox to provide information so Baldwin can "address the 'deniers' who have debunked his assertions."
TheBlaze contacted another documentary filmmaker -- Phelim McAleer -- who is producing "FrackNation," a film that says it will "tell the truth about fracking" and that McAleer says is nearing the end but is still in editing. His general response to Baldwin's assertions and Fox's information: "where is the science?"
Fox's response to Baldwin includes the following:
1- This 2009 piece from ProPublica that refers to a Garfield County, Colorado, study that contradicts certain gas industry assertions about methane in drinking water.
2- This 2011 report from Scientific American that describes significant aquifer contamination from fracking fluids in Wyoming.
3- A 2011 New York Times article that refers to the potential "first crack in the armor" of Rex Tillerson's claims about fracking-related contamination.
4- This article from Food and Water Watch in April of 2012.
5- And this article from a March, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.
Baldwin then goes on to acknowledge the arguments of the "deniers" -- he realizes "not many minds will be changed here" -- but calls out gas companies who he believes will leave states with abundant natural gas reserves after they're done "blasting and pumping and contaminating" without water for "cooking, cleaning and drinking" when all is said and done.
McAleer first calls out the evidence Fox provided to to Baldwin.
"I won't base the future of Americans ...of all people who need energy on articles from Rolling Stone and ProPublica," he said. "This is what we're going to do in FrackNation, take all the scare stories to scientists. When you do that...it's amazing how quickly these scare stories disappear."
In July, TheBlaze reported a story from the Associated Press that revealed many scientists say the health and environmental concerns held about fracking lack scientific backing:
For example, reports that breast cancer rates rose in a region with heavy gas drilling are false, researchers told The Associated Press.
Fears that natural radioactivity in drilling waste could contaminate drinking water aren’t being confirmed by monitoring, either.
And concerns about air pollution from the industry often don’t acknowledge that natural gas is a far cleaner burning fuel than coal.
As for this last point, a more recent report released on Thursday of this week by the Associated Press had scientists attributing increased natural gas use to a drop in carbon dioxide levels to 1992 levels. Some health experts hailed this in the report as well.
McAleer though focuses on Fox's claims from his most recent short film "The Sky is Pink" that contamination from fracking leads to breast cancer. Here's some of what scientists and cancer experts had to say in the Associated Press' July report:
But researchers haven’t seen a spike in breast cancer rates in the area, said Simon Craddock Lee, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
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.
“We don’t,” said Chandini Portteus, Komen’s vice president of research, adding that they sympathize with people’s fears and concerns, but “what we do know is a little bit, and what we don’t know is a lot” about breast cancer and the environment.
"It's just really unacceptable that people are using the scare of breast cancer," McAleer said. "It's very nasty to use it unfairly and inaccurately."
Here Baldwin is seen in June talking about the alleged link between cancer and fracking as well as his economic concerns about the areas affected by fracking:
McAleer said Baldwin is stepping up efforts against fracking as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo approaches a decision on whether to allow fracking within the state or not. In June, Baldwin held a screening of "Gasland" in Syracuse with scientists and other experts on a panel. In a separate blog post for the Huffington Post, which he cross-links from Friday's post, Baldwin writes he wants to "address the lack of caution of the Cuomo administration and its failure to present the facts to New York residents about the potentially staggering risks of the natural gas industry's plans for the New York and beyond."
These efforts could also be setting Baldwin up as reports have said he might be consider a run for mayor of New York City. The New York Times reported last week Baldwin would consider running but not in 2013 race.