Fighting Fracking in the Hudson Valley: Actor Mark Ruffalo Leads the Movement to Stop Hydraulic Fracturing for New York’s Natural Gas

Could high-volume hydraulic fracturing be used to mine natural gas in the Valley? Some area residents — including a famous actor — are working to ensure that never happens


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It was a movie-worthy scene. In July of last year, a New Paltz-based coalition named Frack Action stood before the New York Legislature in Albany. Its mission? To protest the expansion of gas companies into the Catskills in order to begin horizontal hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking), a highly controversial process used to extract natural gas from shale deposits deep below the ground.

Joined by other grass roots organizations, representatives from Frack Action had made the journey up the Thruway from towns all over Orange and Sullivan counties; their numbers were strong and the placards they carried were colorful and clever. The representatives from the gas companies, wearing suits and carrying briefcases, sat in another part of the auditorium. But the activists had been here before and had failed to gain any kind of foothold. So what would be different about today?

Suddenly, from out of the crowd emerged a man holding a clear jar filled with a murky, colored liquid. He looked to be in his early forties, of medium height, handsome in a ruddy and accidental way. At first, he spoke in the apologetic syntax of the Rockwellian farmer standing up in the town hall. “I went to Dimock, Pennsylvania, and I got this out of a family’s well that’s been poisoned by a frack well that’s within 200 yards of their home. Who here, who here in New York, would like to take a sip of that? Who here in New York would like to wake up in the morning and bathe in this? For crying out loud! Have we lost our collective minds?” he demanded. “This is a fighting matter for me and a lot of people.”

» Click here to view the trailer of HBO’s Gasland (opens in new window)


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