Actor Mark Ruffalo Plays the Role of His Life: Defender of New York's Water, Land and Air From Dangerous Natural Gas Drilling
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The best thing that could happen is that the gas companies go and local people who need money get to keep the gas company money and pay their mortgages.
NE: So you don’t think this new drilling could benefit the community at all financially?
MR: I’ll put it to you this way. They drilled the Millennium Pipeline right behind my house. The gas companies said, “This is going to be great for your economy.” Every truck I saw was from Michigan, Texas, Ohio. I didn’t see a local person getting paid to work on that pipeline in this community except for a neighbor who was working on cleanup. We don’t know anything about drilling. We don’t have the trained workforce.
As far as the money coming in, the people getting money for leasing, much like my sweet farmer, those folks are mostly going to Florida…well maybe not Florida anymore. But they’re going away. They want to cash out. So I seriously doubt that the money is going to stay here.
NE: Do you see a way to establish some unity going forward between those who’ve leased and those who haven’t, to safeguard the environment?
MR: I hope so. There’s a group called Fleeced, a group of people who leased and thought that everything was going to be great. Then they saw what was happening in Dimock, Pennsylvania and other places, where so much water and earth and air have been destroyed, and now they’re saying, “Oh my God, what did I get myself into!”
But some people are pro-drilling and unwilling to wait for the EPA studies because they want to get rich quick. Look around today. There are guys standing next to farmers, shouting to drill now, who are tanned and wearing flip-flops and a yachting belt. They got money; they just want a lot more.
You think I’m going to stand by and let my kids drink the water that runs off from their drilled fields to my pond and well? No way. They can do whatever they want on their land, but when they’re poisoning me, poisoning my three kids, poisoning 9 million in New York, I got to stand up and say no. It’s a matter of conscience for me. Clean air and clean water is a matter of right. I can’t let people poison this land without a fight. And I’m just one of many.
NE: How are you going to fight?
MR: I’ve gone to Albany. I’ve talked to people in government. The lawmakers on our side, you know what they told me? “You better not let up on your lobbying.” It’s not an easy fight. We’re up against a powerful enemy with lots of money, lobbyists and lawyers.
NE: You believe you can battle that powerful enemy and prevail?
MR: The system is not entirely rigged. The most cynical of forces would like us to believe that, but a group of people together can change things. There is nothing more convincing than to see people who have nothing to gain but the overall public good out in the world and lobbying for what is right.
That’s what we have today. That’s what we have when we go to the state senate, to the meetings of the Delaware River Basin Commission. We can’t let up if we want to effect change.
I believe we’re seeing the beginning of a national campaign to pause the drilling madness, and to educate and illuminate. When you go out and you have the facts and you take steps forward to defend the things you know to be right, then the world becomes a more hopeful place.