“The intense means of extraction, known as fracking, is believed to induce earthquakes, compound global warming, pollute the environment, and to have wasted water during California’s most recent drought, the worst in 1,200 years.” ~ Vanity Fair
For years, Mark Ruffalo has been an outspoken opponent to fracking — otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, an extreme oil and gas extraction method. The Oscar-nominated actor has firsthand experience with the problems posed by the practice — from his rural home in the Catskills that sits upon one of the largest natural gas fields in the world to urban drilling in California, where a single oil field in L.A. puts over a million people at risk.
Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio — both highly publicized environmental activists — joined ranks recently and brought attention to L.A.’s dangerous practice of drilling within city limits by embarking on a “toxic tour” of all the oil sites in the area. Moreover, Ruffalo’s initiative Hollywood United was established to expose California governor Jerry Brown’s aggressive (and hypocritical) agenda for oil and gas extraction in the state. In the wake of the catastrophic Porter Ranch methane leak in southern California, Ruffalo’s activism couldn’t have come at a better time.
A crisis of confidence in the government
After the tour, Ruffalo continued by speaking with members of the community who have been affected by urban drilling. The meeting took place at a soccer field next to the Inglewood Oil Field — the largest of its kind in the nation, where over a million people live within five miles of the drilling site. He heard from frustrated Angelenos whose children have various health issues — bloody noses, fatigue, rashes and migraine headaches — that are believed to be a direct result of air pollution and toxic waste generated by the industry.
“Dear Governor Brown” Trailer HD
But the media has been silent about the potential dangers of urban drilling. That is, until an accident of such environmental magnitude occurred late last year in Porter Ranch that it was was impossible to ignore.
L.A.’s oil and gas industry made headlines last autumn when a massive leak in the heart of Southern California displaced over 2,200 families and was classified as the worst environmental disaster since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. “Over 112 days, the leak poured 100,000 tons of methane — a greenhouse gas more harmful than carbon dioxide — into the air, according to the first study of the entire leak by a team of researchers from UC-Irvine, UC-Davis, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, and elsewhere.” [source]
Instead of declaring a state of emergency immediately, California Governor Brown — whose sister just happens to be a paid board member of the gas company who owns the well in Porter Ranch — waited several months. However, a press representative from the Governor’s office did have this to say:
“There is absolutely no link between the Governor’s sister and her service on a Board with the timing of the state’s action on Aliso Canyon. The administration was onsite and exercising its full regulatory and oversight authority from day one. The emergency declaration enshrined and expanded upon that action.”
Ruffalo believes instances like what happened with Governor Brown and his lack of urgency has created a “crisis of confidence of the people and the government.” He added
“The government is supposed to protect the people… but it turned its back and ignored them. It doesn’t even matter if what the leadership is doing is right or wrong at this moment. What matters is what people think about the leadership based on the response they are getting to the problems they are facing — existential problems really — their kids are sick. That is what this is about.”
Last November, while the Porter Ranch crisis was in full swing, the governor used state-funded experts to explore the potential for oil development on his own private property — 2,700 acres worth in Northern California. This coming from a governor who is internationally known as an eco advocate because of his ‘support’ of renewable energy. In December, he told French graduate students at the U.N.’s Paris climate-change summit that “We have to be able to imagine the horrors that might unfold, and then take steps to prevent it.”
And yet, according to Ruffalo, the governor is adding 300 new wells a month to the California landscape.
“He is the most drilling-friendly governor in the United States at this moment.”
Apparently, the governor’s public persona as an environmental champion for sustainable energy is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
“If Governor Brown is going to walk around saying that he is a climate-change hero, then by God, we are going to hold him to his word… If you are going to go around the world and tell other nations that they have to keep 70 percent, 80 percent of their carbon in the ground, then you have to in California. I know it’s not easy to do… But until we start taking our foot out of the past, we can’t step into the future.”
Mark Ruffalo on Fracking, Alternative Energy, Clean Water and Activism