Celebrities, Politicians Renew Fight to Protect Drinking Water, Environment From Unregulated Natural Gas Drilling

Adding star power to efforts to regulate the environmentally risky form of natural gas drilling known as hydraulic fracturing, Gasland Director Josh Fox and actor-turned-activist Mark Ruffalo joined Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) and Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) in sounding the call for baseline federal rules and oversight that would protect against the contamination of drinking water and other broad scale environmental impacts.

"If hydraulic fracturing is so safe, why is the industry so afraid of letting the EPA make sure?" Hinchey asked. "If the chemicals they are using aren't seeping into people's drinking water, why is the industry so afraid of a requirement that they tell us what they are injecting into the ground? This is the same industry that lied about their use of diesel fuel in the fracking process, and there is no reason to expect that they'll change their ways anytime soon. I want to thank Josh Fox and Mark Ruffalo for asking the tough questions and using their star power to raise awareness about this important issue. What they are doing is so critically important, and I'm doing everything I can to support their efforts."

“We want safety and science to be at the center of our nation’s energy policy because our air, water and own health are at stake,” Polis said. “Supporting natural gas shouldn’t mean sacrificing our health or environment. I’m excited that we will reintroduce the FRAC Act soon, and will push to correct other loopholes that have been slipped in under the radar and pose a danger to our constituents. We’re willing to fight hard on our end here in Congress, but change happens when our citizens demand action. Josh Fox and Mark Ruffalo have done an amazing job bridging the gap between government policy and grassroots support and built up an army of believers devoted to the cause. ”

“Our loyalties shouldn’t lie with the oil and gas industry. Our loyalty should lie with families – like those along the Delaware River – who rely on the waters for drinking, recreational and industrial use, and who are now threatened by hydraulic fracking,” Holt said. “I thank my colleagues, Maurice Hinchey and Jared Polis for fighting for legislation to require hydraulic fracturing to comply with existing safe water laws. And I thank Josh Fox and Mark Ruffalo for shedding a spotlight on this issue. I hope they’ll come back in a few months – this time as Oscar winners – as we move forward to enact this important public safety legislation into law.”

Ruffalo, a resident of Sullivan County, N.Y., which is in Hinchey's district, has helped lead the fight for stronger statewide rules to govern the gas extraction process in Albany. His efforts helped achieve a temporary moratorium on drilling throughout New York State. Fox, director of the Academy Award nominated documentary Gasland, has also been a leader in the charge to stop unregulated natural gas drilling throughout the country.

Hinchey is the co-author of the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, which he introduced in the previous Congress with Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO). The bill was co-sponsored by Polis and Holt and seeks to eliminate the so-called 2005 Halliburton exemption, which prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating fracking through the Safe Drinking Water Act. The legislation would also require the disclosure of chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Hinchey is also the author of language that initiated an ongoing EPA study to determine the environmental impacts of the drilling technique.

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