Counter Attack: Actors, Celebs Team Up Against NY Fracking

A group of actors and celebrities -- including Ethan Hawke, Mark Ruffalo and Zoë Saldana -- have joined the fight against drilling for natural gas in upstate New York's Marcellus Shale rock.

In the video, sponsored by clean water advocacy group Clean Water Not Dirty Drilling, the featured artists comment on the threat to their water source. Ruffalo also released a statement with the launch of the video, saying:

“My family moved to our quiet farming town on the Delaware River so we could enjoy a simple, healthy life outside of the bustling city. We want to enjoy that peace down the road, and know that the tap water we drink, and bathe our children in, is safe.”

Gas industry officials say their concerns are misplaced. Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who also serves as a consultant for shale gas groups, maintains that methane buildup in groundwater -- commonly associated with fracking -- is a naturally occurring phenomenon. 

“Yes it is happening to some water supplies, and it has absolutely nothing to do with hydraulic fracturing."

Jim Smith, a spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, told the New York Times that the threats has been exaggerated. He also commented:

“Watching the video, I wondered how they heated the tub water,” Smith said. “If Ethan Hawke was able to stay so calm in that cold tub water, then he’s some actor.”


As Mother Jones reported, the alleged dangers seem to carry significant import: reports of drinking water with benzine 1,500 times over the legal limit, homeowners who have been advised by the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent explosions by turning on fans while showering, and undiluted radioactive wastewater found in rivers near fracking sites.

The NRDC has compiled a extensive list of reported cases where fracking is suspected of harming areas near gas well sites -- including accounts of methane buildup. The NRDC's Amy Mall says that the only thing shared by the incidents listed is gas drilling.

"As you will see, these cases are not limited to just one company or one state. The stories from around the country are unfortunately familiar."

Clean Water Not Dirty Drilling also announced a call to action, encouraging the public to defend their favorite bodies of water by submitting an online pledge. More information can be found on its website.