In addition to being a director, and an Academy Award nominated actor, Mark Ruffalo is a longtime environmental advocate, and is the founder of “Water Defense,” a non-profit committed to keeping the country’s water contaminant free. Ruffalo describes “Water Defense” as an organization that “works to create a world where water is safe to drink, a world where the oceans don’t rise and the economy is powered by clean, sustainable sources of energy like wind, water and solar.”
Since 2010, Ruffalo has been a supporter of the creation of 100 percent clean energy – including a campaign to “Put Solar On It” – to try and put a stop to tracking in his community in upstate New York. In a guest appearance on “Countdown With Keith Olberman,” Ruffalo discussed fracking, most particularly in New York. He said that “[t]his is an industry that is the dirtiest, slimiest, most arrogant, and negligent that you can imagine.”
In a piece co-authored with Phil Radford, on CNN, Ruffalo laid out his full case against fracking where he argued “solar and wind are here now, and using fracked natural gas instead of cleaner sources of energy will result in more faucets on fire, methane leaks that cause global warming, groundwater contamination, and cancer causing chemicals in communities.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Ruffalo was asked why he is so committed to this fracking fight? He explains that he “didn’t start out against it. When I first heard about hydrofracking, I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this is great. Gas is clean, it will get us energy independence, it will solve climate change.’ Then, ugh – it’s like when the reality of the cheating girlfriend hits you. I saw my neighbors leasing their land to gas companies, and I realized if I didn’t do something, it would destroy the place I live. I’d rather be doing other things with my free time, but when I learned about what is going on with fracking, it really challenged me – like, am I a phony or not? Then I went to Dimock, PA, which is the epicenter of the fracking disaster. I saw people who were suffering, whose lives have been ruined by this. I also saw the total failure of our political system, our social system. The fact that something like this can happen in America is unbelievable.”
What is happening in New York at the present time is very significant, says Ruffalo. “This is the next big frontier for the gas companies. They have been trying to get in here for years, and they haven’t been able to because of a moratorium on fracking that was put through by Gov. Paterson [Cuomo's predecessor]. But the pressure on the state to end the moratorium and allow fracking has been huge. Also, New York is the cultural and economic center of this part of the world. It also has a vibrant farming community, and it’s where renewable energy got started. So what happens here is of symbolic significance, as well as personal significance,” he said.
While Governor Andrew Cuomo weighs a decision on whether to allow hydraulic fracturing, Mayor Bill De Blasio made it clear that he is opposed to fracking anywhere in New York State. “The one thing I am firm about is that I don’t see any place for fracking,” De Blasio told reporters in Washington, D.C., after a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. De Blasio is concerned about the potential health affects fracking will have on his citizens. “The science simply isn’t reliable enough,” De Blasio said. “The technology isn’t reliable enough. And there’s too much danger to our water supply, to our environment in general. So my view is that there should be a moratorium on fracking in New York State until the day comes that we can actually prove it’s safe, and I don’t think that day is coming any time soon.”
“We’re clearly coming to the end of the fossil fuel era. We have the technology to shift to renewable energy, we have the will of the people. The only thing that’s keeping us back is the fossil fuel industry’s hold on our political system. That’s what we need to change. And that’s why we’re looking to Gov. Cuomo. He did the right thing on gay marriage, and we’re proud of him for that. Now he has the chance to do the right thing again with hydrofracking,” said Ruffalo.
Ruffalo sums up the potential water crisis on his “Water Defense” website: “As the world’s energy appetite continues to grow, and conventional sources of oil and gas are depleted, industries are turning to riskier and more destructive ways of producing electricity and fuel: offshore drilling for oil, extracting oil from the tar sands, hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, surface mining for coal, and nuclear energy. All of these forms of extreme energy pose a risk to the Earth’s precious water resources and waste enormous amounts of H2O. Extreme energy is touted as a path to energy independence; in reality, it is a path to ecocide and climate catastrophe. Instead of staking our future on false solutions, we need to transition to more sustainable ways of life and renewable energy sources.”