web analytics
keyetv.com Austin News, Weather, Traffic KEYE-TV Austin - HOME
Jun 132011

From Green Right Now Reports

The punchline to that headline, in case you don’t know: “So stop fracking with it.”

New Yorkers do enjoy wonderful water, from upstate watersheds that filter the water the old fashioned way, with plants, trees and earth.

Yet little-known to many people, even many in the Big Apple, Manhattan water could be at risk from upstate natural gas drilling.

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who’s been lending his voice to activist groups try to slow, stop or at least make the drilling more ecologically sound — believes the threat of contamination is real.

After visiting other communities in Pennsylvania where natural gas drilling that used hydrofracking methods had promised jobs, but left behind a trail of dirty water, flammable wells and duped leaseholders, Ruffalo said he felt compelled to join the movement to stop fracking in upstate New York, where he lives with his family when not filming.

”What I saw was completely shocking to me, I saw people with no voice. Their state government had turned their backs no them them,” Ruffalo said in a news conference Monday. “They couldn’t take showers, they couldn’t drink the water…Their homes were filled with useless equipment incampable of filtering their water.”

Ruffalo concluded that he had to try to dispel what he sees as the myths around natural gas drilling: That it is a completely local fuel (international companies will sell it on the global market, and speculators will make money too) and that it’s helpful to local communities.

Ruffalo thinks the industry obfuscates the harm it does by promising to champion local communities and lift them up with jobs and big lease contracts, but the truth is that “communties are worse off afterward.”

Clean energy, not more fossil fuels, is where the country should be headed, he said, and New York State could lead the way by holding the line on fracking. He noted that a solar power bill pending in the legislature pledges to produce 20,000, more than 18,000 jobs projected by the natural gas industry for the state.

Ruffalo has been working with environmentalist groups over the past two years to raise awareness about “fracking” or hydrofracturing, a drilling method in which operators force millions of gallons of water into the earth to break apart shale rock and release natural gas reserves.

Fracking has fast become popular method of accessing hitherto inaccessible gas stores. But environmentalists worry about the large volume of freshwater being destroyed in the process as well as the danger to the undeground water supplies that can be contaminated. Numerous people in the Marcellus Shale region, which cuts across New York and Pennsylvania into Appalachia, have complained that nearby gas drilling contaminated their water wells. Similar stories have emerged from the Barnett Shale drilling region in Texas.

The natural gas industry maintains that no underground water source has been contaminated by natural gas drilling, though media reports dispute that. Industry experts promote natural gas as a clean solution or bridge fuel to the future because it burns cleaner than gasoline in combustion engines. Natural gas emissions are relatively clean compared with the greenhouse gases emitted by cars and trucks powered by gasoline.

T. Boone Pickens has based his “Pickens Plan” around moving vehicles to natural gas as a way to make the U.S. more energy secure, and many lawmakers now support his effort to convert heavy vehicles to natural gas from dirtier burning diesel.

Still, environmentalists point out that natural gas is not so eco-friendly at the front end. Drillers push toxic chemicals into the earth, yet have been exempted by the federal government under the “Halliburton Loophole” from revealing the chemicals involved.

Ruffalo joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council on Monday to discuss pending legislation in New York State that could extend a moratorium on drilling for another year, allowing time for the state to better study the threat to water supplies.

Two other bills being considered in Albany would require drillers to get permits for the water they use, or in another case, subject their hazardous waste plans to better scrutiny.

Read more about Ruffalo’s efforts: Clean Water No Dirty Drilling.