Marcellus Shale

Ruffalo Goes Out on a Limb, Falls Flat on Facts

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined comedian Stephen Colbert this week to discuss his opinions on natural gas, and his efforts to derail the safe and responsible development of this resource.  While we never would have expected either of these national celebrities to tout the successes of natural gas – such as the resurgence of the U.S. Steel industry and our nation’s manufacturing base, just to cite two examples – what we heard was anything but the facts.  It was, indeed, quite a departure from reality.

Responsible energy development is providing millions of jobs, increasing paychecks and reducing utility bills for millions of Americans, but listening to Mark Ruffalo, who has a home in Sullivan County, New York, one would think the world was due to end momentarily unless we call an immediate halt to all this activity.  Here’s some of what Ruffalo said and how his statements don’t align with the facts at hand.

Now we have tar sands, mountain top removal, deep sea drilling and all of these things destroy water, in particular, hydrofracking.

The Facts:

  • Multiple government officials and countless studies have declared hydraulic fracturing has not and does not impact groundwater. Don’t take our word for it; EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson informed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee “I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process has affected water.” (May, 2011)
  • U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently joined Administrator Jackson, and regulators in over 15 states, in declaring hydraulic fracturing is a safe technology. He stated;  “Hydraulic fracking can be done safely and in fact is being done safely in most cases,” Salazar said during remarks at the City Club of Cleveland (February, 2012).
  • recent study from the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin confirmed there is “no evidence” of hydraulic fracturing ever leading to groundwater contamination. As lead author Charles Groat said: “We found no direct evidence that hydraulic fracturing itself — the practice of fracturing the rocks — had contaminated shallow groundwater.”  This study joins previous studies conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Penn State University and many others.

They put chemicals in that water, a lot of chemicals, 150,000 gallons per well, they won’t tell us [what the chemicals are]

The Facts:

  • Components of hydraulic fracturing fluid are not a secret.  Natural gas companies are disclosing fracturing fluid composition voluntarily through In fact, as of March 7, 2012 nearly 200 companies disclosed information on fracturing fluids used in over 12,794 wells.  Also, states are increasingly requiring disclosure with Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, among others, all having laws on the books requiring public disclosure of fracturing fluids.
  • Actually, 99.5% of hydraulic fracturing fluid is nothing more than water and sand.  A single application of hydraulic fracturing fluid only contains a handful of additives, as noticed in this Halliburton formulation, most of which you can find in your home in products like ice cream.

[The claim] we are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas has been debunked by 80%, now its 20 years worth of gas at the rate we are using it right now,” referring to a USGS survey conducted in 2011.

The Facts:

  • This month a pair of studies from IHS and ICF took an in-depth look at Marcellus Shale reserves, finding this shale resource alone has approximately  500 trillion cubic feet of commercially recoverable gas, or twenty years supply at current use.
  • President Obama, in his 2012 State of the Union Address stated: “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years.  And my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy.  Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.”
  • The study to which Ruffalo referred, and his particular characterization of that study, are directly refuted by what officials at the Energy Information Administration said last year:  “As it turns out, many of those stories may have been premature — and appear to be based on a slight misunderstanding of the USGS survey. … As Brenda Pierce, program coordinator for the USGS energy resources program told me, it’s important to do an apples-to-apples comparison here. The USGS and EIA aren’t measuring the same thing, exactly: The USGS offered an estimate of undiscovered resources that can be recovered with current technology, whereas the EIA report looked at both “active” and “undeveloped” reserves together. “Ours is additive to what’s already in production,” explains Pierce. …  So the revision could end up being much less stark than early media reports implied.” (Washington Post, 8/26/11)

These people aren’t scientists, they are selling gas.

The Facts:

  •  Actually, plenty of scientists 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. EPA, U.S. Department of Energy and the Groundwater Protection Council to get you started, in addition to those we mentioned before.
  • Also, gas companies are not just selling gas – they are creating opportunities if only landowners and communities in New York State could take advantage of them.  Mark Ruffalo’s Sullivan County neighbor Bill Graby appears at the very beginning of this FrackNation video to say what he thinks about those who are opposing this desperately needed development.

America’s being left behind all over the world.

The Facts:

Then I went to Dimock PA and I saw what it does to family, these people can’t drink the water coming out of their tap… their water is full of poison and gas.

The Facts:

With all the good news coming down the pike on natural gas development, it’s understandable those opposing its safe and responsible extraction would turn to hyperbole to advance their cause and gain support.  While we aren’t Oscar nominated actors who can conjure up compelling playacts based on fictional assertions, we do know the facts.  It’s upon those facts that we should all base our conversations about developing the nation’s energy resources, not on the shallow opinions of actors appearing on late night comedy shows.

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