Appalachian Basin

Mark Ruffalo- High on Hyperbole, Light on Facts

If you haven’t heard, Mark Ruffalo is a main attraction in anti-natural gas industry efforts these days.  Lately, Ruffalo has appeared just about anywhere he can rallying against the safe and responsible development of onshore energy by dropping tired, ill-informed hyperbolic one liners .

Of course this type of behavior is nothing new for Ruffalo, former star of Mirror, Mirror III: The Voyeur and The Kids are Alright.  His theater, of course, isn’t limited to the silver screen.  In fact, he has brought his talents to the smallest of screens as noticed in a video supporting Josh Fox and Bill McKibben’s Father’s Day rally in Columbus. In this video Ruffalo makes many irresponsible claims, the first of which is that hydraulic fracturing is not safe.

People understand that hydraulic fracturing is not safe, and that no matter what the gas and oil industry tells them, they are not willing to leave a toxic legacy for their children.—Mark Ruffalo (:17)

We have documented the numerous regulatory bodies, technological advances, studies, and safety precautions the industry has taken in order to ensure unlocking these vast resources is done safely.  Experts across the country have indicated that hydraulic fracturing is safe.  In the interest of brevity we won’t provide a full list, but here are a few studies from the U.S. EPAU.S. Department of Energy and the Groundwater Protection Council to get you started, in addition to those we mentioned before.  Also, appearing in Cleveland earlier this year Ken Salazar, current U.S. Secretary of the Interior, stated:

“Hydraulic fracking can be done safely and in fact is being done safely in most cases,” – Ken Salazar, Secretary of Interior

We tend to agree with Mr. Salazar (full remarks available here) over Mark Ruffalo.  After all, the current Interior Secretary has spent over a decade in public service and according to his biography has been involved in every major bipartisan legislative effort on energy since 2005, including helping craft the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007. Sounds like more of an energy expert than a movie star who still hasn’t played an effective lead role but merely supports others that do. But I digress.

Next, Ruffalo claims shale development will leave a “toxic legacy for children” when in fact, quite the opposite has been demonstrated.  In Denton County, Texas (home to his Gasland buddy Calvin Tillman) a health assessment showed that while oil and gas production increased in the prolific Barnett Shale, the overall health of people in the community improved and that residents were not exposed to harmful elements beyond the normal population.

Biological test results from a Texas Department of State Health Services investigation in Dish, Texas, indicate that residents’ exposure to certain contaminants was not greater than that of the general U.S. population.—Texas Department of State Health Services

Meanwhile, multiple studies have shown incredible job growth and a path to cheaper energy independence in the decades to come.  I’d say that gives our offspring a pretty bright outlook.

Ruffalo continues with his false claims:

People know that not only does fracking poison our water, it also poisons our air with cancer-causing fumes and fills our rivers with radioactive wastewater.  And it even causes earthquakes like the one that shook Youngstown last New Year’s Eve.—Mark Ruffalo (:26)

This has been debunked countless times, but once again: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said there is no confirmed case of groundwater contamination linked to hydraulic fracturing. She is, of course, backed up by Scott Kell of ODNR and studies by numerous academic institutions and regulators from 15 developing states. As far as emissions, a study recently found that emissions from hydraulic fracturing are less than half what the EPA estimated. Also, the Texas Department of Environmental Quality has one of the most extensive air monitoring networks in the nation with over 2,000 air sensors. It shows that air pollution in, and around, the Barnett does not exceed any levels that would impact public health.

Lastly, the actor made a vain attempt to link hydraulic fracturing to a series of  “earthquakes” in Youngstown. As EID-Ohio has covered extensively, this is certainly not the case. These events were associated with one underground injection well out of over 100 in the state.  This situation was investigated and addressed shortly after it occurred.

What I found the most disturbing, but not surprising, of Ruffalo’s video plea was this claim:

They are demanding American communities be put before corporate profits—Mark Ruffalo (1:24)

If Ruffalo took time to leave New York and actually visit Ohio’s landowners and communities, he would see the benefits and opportunities we see here on the ground.

He must not have visited the new numerous companies hiring hundreds of people or read the plans for new steel mills. Companies big and small are making Ohio their home and showing their presence at job fairs around the state.  Steel and manufacturing are seeing a major resurgence after a decades-long absence. However, this is just the beginning.

There’s also families like the Rufener’s, a family of  dairy farmers who were able to use the money from their lease to reinvest in their business and build a state of the art milk parlor.  Landowners, local businesses, and entire industries are reaping the benefits of Utica Shale development which is doing more to grow Ohio’s economy than any other sector. In fact, it has helped bring our unemployment rate down to it’s lowest level since 2008.  Sounds like there are plenty of benefits for Ohio- and American- communities.

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