Years of environmental studies, concerns over health risks, and both public and government officials speaking up and calling for its stop, New York has finally banned fracking.
Earlier this month the Department of Environmental Conservation issued its final report which resulted in the ban of high-volume hydraulic oil fracking. While many have gotten behind the fight to bring this highly controversial and dangerous drilling practice to a halt, one of the strongest and loudest voices has come from a very well-known individual -- Mark Ruffalo.
While Ruffalo is known by most for his performances on the big screen, his passion for protecting the environment and protecting the world’s freshwater sources should earn him even more praise.
Ruffalo, who is the founder of the advocacy organization Water Defense, based in Livingston Manor, N.Y., has been at the forefront of the battle to stop fracking. The Hollywood actor has gone as far as calling on President Barack Obama to place a ban on the drilling, which has been directly tied to climate change and global warming, not to mention the contamination of water.
“The contamination of water is a major component of it,” Ruffalo said in a recent interview at Dickinson College. He added that it’s become increasingly apparent that there is a lack of accurate data when it comes to environmental issues as, for years, the data produced has either come via industry or by the state. Gaining accurate data and making sure the environment is protected is “in the hands of the communities,” he said.
Simply put, Ruffalo doesn’t see there ever being an upside to fracking.
"Prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated. This decision is consistent with DEC's mission to conserve, improve and protect our state's natural resources, and to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state."
The ban on fracking is not permanent as it can be rescinded.
Fracking, according to Ruffalo, “uses an enormous amount of freshwater in a time when freshwater is becoming more and more precious. Not only does it use it, it’s hard to recycle it.”
It takes about 13 million gallons of water to frack one well. A large quantity, especially since of all the water on the planet, only 3 percent is freshwater.
The answer to finding energy sources certainly isn’t contaminating this small supply to gain a small amount of oil. The answer is instead focusing more on renewable energy.
“There’s a whole movement for renewable energy in New York state. There’s a race between New York and a few other governors throughout the nation on who is more forward-thinking and to see who is doing the most and the best,” Ruffalo said. “One of the ways a place can assure that their water and air qualities and quality of life is sustained is moving to renewable energy.”
He’s been delivering that message through the Water Defense organization. Water Defense is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to clean water, rooted in the belief that access to clean water is a fundamental human right. Its mission is to use technology and public engagement to inform people about what is in their water, hold water polluters accountable, and keep our waterways and drinking water sources free from contamination and industrial degradation.
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