"Meet The Sautners," a promotional ad for the independently made pro-energy documentary "FrackNation," has come under attack by those who want it pulled from YouTube.
"FrackNation" is the brainchild of independent filmmakers Philem McAleer and Ann McElhinney. The movie advertisement features a Dimock, Pa., family, the Sautners, who claim that their water was contaminated with a number of dangerous chemicals including "weapons grade uranium," because of nearby fracking to obtain natural gas. It then goes on to show a group of EPA specialists informing the Dimocks that their water is in fact safe.
"It is a funny advertisement about a serious matter" said McAleer. "It is funny that these claims (of contamination) have been taken seriously without journalists checking them out. We rectify that, and that is why we are now getting legal action trying to shut us down."
YouTube sent a warning to McAleer and McElhinney, on January 7, informing them that a complaint was filed about a "potential privacy violation" in a trailer for their documentary. The only people identified in the advertisement are the Sautners, both of whom are arguably public figures.
"'FrackNation' has not even been seen in public before we have had the first attack from anti-fracking activists who are trying to use lawyers to shut down dissent," said McAleer.
This isn't McAleer's first run-in with YouTube over his work dispelling environmental activists' fear-mongering claims.
"I decided to make 'FrackNation' documentary because Josh Fox - the director of the anti-fracking documentary 'GasLand' forced YouTube to remove one of my previous films challenging his inaccurate claims about 'burning water.' It seems that anti-fracking activists don't want debate or dissent - they want to silence criticism and questions."
According to the warning from YouTube, the site takes "public interest, newsworthiness, and consent into account when determining if content should be removed for a privacy violation." The Sautners were not only involved in a multi-million lawsuit, but their story has become a rallying cry for environmental activists.
Dimock, Pa., has attracted celebrity activists Mark Ruffallo, Ashley Judd and Robert Kennedy. The Sautners themselves were involved in a multi-million dollar lawsuit over the quality of their water. The advertisement, and "FrackNation," raise questions about the accuracy of the Sautners' claims.
"FrackNation" is a response to anti-fracking films like Josh Fox's "GasLand" and Matt Damon's new movie "Promised Land." The McAleer documentary investigates claims that "fracking," or hydraulic fracturing, a process for removing natural gas from shale deposits, could potentially harm the environment.