A group led by actor Mark Ruffalo took a bus from City Hall to Pennsylvania today to deliver water to a community they say was affected by the controversial natural gas drilling procedure called hydrofracking. Governor Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation are currently considering whether to allow hydrofracking in New York.
Mr. Ruffalo, a longtime opponent of the procedure and resident of upstate Sullivan County, told Politicker fracking contaminated the water in Dimock and he thinks it would have similar consequences here. “There’s no doubt in my mind, or most people’s minds at this point, that the way this industry has been moving forward up until now will contaminate New York State,” Mr. Ruffalo said.
Hydrofracking, which is short for hydraulic fracturing, involves extracting gas from underground rock layers by creating fractures with a cocktail of pressurized water and chemicals. Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Ed Rendell, who was the state’s governor at the time, determined the water in Dimock was unsafe and said Cabot Oil and Gas, which conducts hydrofracking in the area, would have to pay $12 million for a pipeline to bring drinking water to the area. In the meantime, Cabot was required to deliver water to affected homes.
“On November 30, Cabot Oil and the DEP decided that these folks, for no scientific reason, no longer need this water, so they cut them off,” Mr. Ruffalo said. “We’re bringing our New York State, pure New York State unfracked drinking water, to the folks in Dimock, P.A., our brothers and sisters, our fellow Americans,” Mr. Ruffalo said.
Mr. Ruffalo said the decision to abandon plans for the pipeline and stop water delivery was made after Pennsylvania’s newly-elected governor, Tom Corbett, received more than a million dollars in campaign contributions from the energy industry.
“When Corbett came into office, he dropped that plan. He took a $1.6 million, what I’d like to say vig, from the oil and gas industry to stop the $12 million pipeline that Cabot Oil was meant to build,” Mr. Ruffalo said.
Before departing on a bus bound for Dimock, Mr. Ruffalo held a press conference on the steps of City Hall where he was joined by activists from several environmental groups and Lance Simmens, a former special assistant to Governor Rendell. Mr. Simmens slammed Governor Corbett’s decision to discontinue water delivery and the planned pipeline.
“The current Administration clearly needs to address this deplorable decision,” Mr. Simmens said.
The mayor of Binghamton, New York, which is about 30 miles from Dimock, supplied the water for Mr. Ruffalo’s mission.
“Binghampton has offered to join in a mutual benefacting relationship with Dimock, P.A. to bring them water every single day at no cost,” Mr. Ruffalo said. “The town board of Dimock, P.A. voted three to zero against allowing that to happen after taking a meeting with Cabot Oil. Endemic corruption is happening in Pennsylvania and it needs to be looked into.”
As of this writing Cabot Oil and Governor Corbett’s office have not responded to Politicker’s request for comment on this story.
Though he’s concerned about the situation in Pennsylvania, Mr. Ruffalo is optimistic hydrofracking won’t come to New York. The Department of Environmental Conservation is currently reviewing whether to allow the procedure here after conducting a series of hearings around the state. Mr. Ruffalo said those hearings went “amazingly well” with opponents of hydrofracking greatly outnumbering those who showed up in support of the procedure.
“It was four-to-one in Binghamton, in Loch Sheldrake it was like eleven-to-one against gas drilling and, here in New York City, it was like 2,000-to-two people,” Mr. Ruffalo said. “It sends a very clear message to the Governor where New Yorkers stand on this issue. As people get educated on this, they’re turning away from the idea that this is actually good for New York State.”