A local conservative group is hoping a documentary film will tell the public the truth behind a controversial form of oil and gas drilling.
Americans for Prosperity Montana, along with the Montana Petroleum Association, sponsored a series of screening across Montana for the documentary film "FrackNation". The film, which focuses on Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking), was produced by three European journalists: Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney from Ireland, and Magdalena Segieda of Poland.
While the movie screenings across Montana were sponsored by AFP Montana and the Montana Petroleum Association, FrackNation itself, according to the film's website, was sponsored independently by individual donors via a Kickstarter campaign, and donations by all oil and gas companies, as well as those from oil and gas executives, were rejected.
Former Montana State Senator Joe Balyeat, who now serves as AFP Montana's State Director, has been bringing the film to various Montana communities since early May.
"I believe we are on the edge, with Shale Gas, of having both a clean environment and a prosperous economy. We can have both. FrackNation is a movie that thoroughly debunks a lot of the false claims made in Gasland." said Balyeat. He was referring to a documentary film on Fracking made in 2010 by director Josh Fox.
"In Gasland, he showed a scene where a guy lights his kitchen faucet on fire, and he claimed Fracking causes the water to be able to be lit on fire. That's simply not true. It's caused by natural methane." said Balyeat.
However, local environmental groups said Thursday the prosperous economy that Fracking can bring will come at a very high price.
"Fracking takes a lot of chemicals. They're injected into the ground. I think there's 980 toxic chemicals that are used." said Steve Charter with the Northern Plains Resource Council. He also said there are concerns with the use of water.
"The Fracking process uses a tremendous amount of water, and that water is basically lost. It's reinjected." said Charter.
He also went on to say that with current laws, Montanans don't have a right to know the effects those chemicals will have on their environment.
"We had a law that would protect us from that kind of contamination, but the oil and gas industry got themselves exempted from that law." said Charter.
Balyeat, when interviewed, refuted the points Charter made, saying that Fracking is only done a few times over the life of an oil or gas well, and that the chemicals used are safe. He stated that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) once said he had consumed Fracking fluid, without harm.
Balyeat ended the night by saying that Fracking is a step towards making the U.S. self-reliant in the field of energy.
"We will be independent from our enemies and those abroad who control our energy destiny now. We believe within 10 years or slightly more than that, the U.S. will be energy independent." said Balyeat.