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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Getting the word out
There is a long wooden table in the Old North Branch Inn in North Branch, where over coffee and danish, owner Victoria Lesser and her fellow representatives from Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy meet frequently throughout the year, plotting e-mail blasts, special events, and ways to raise public awareness.
From this table and many others like it throughout the Valley, small victories are being won. In addition to influencing the decision to place the ban, organizations have enlisted the support of New York politicians, including Congressman Maurice Hinchey and assembly member Aileen Gunther, who represents the Sullivan County constituency. E-mail lists are exploding in numbers. A crowd of 600 turned up for a potluck fund-raiser in Callicoon last fall that was organized by Ruffalo and his wife.
The number of New Yorkers who have been alerted to the fracking controversy “has grown from zero three years ago to more than eight million today,” says Ferguson, largely through the work of grass roots action committees. “Education is the number one priority, because once you know half the facts, you’re horrified enough.
“The gas industry’s goal is to get in the ground before anyone knows what’s going on,” Ferguson adds. “They’ve never had to deal with an educated public before. People I’ve spoken to out west who are now living through gas drilling told us that no one knew anything, but since it’s moved eastward, it’s gained attention.”