As Oscar season enters full swing, two nominees are taking a break from the action in Hollywood to visit Washington, D.C. tomorrow (Thursday) and educate the public and members of Congress about the dangers of gas drilling. Director Josh Fox is up for a Best Documentary award for GASLAND, a searing indictment of the hazards associated with the controversial gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) – in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force gas from underground deposits.
Fox is joining Best Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo, whose home in New York’s Catskill Mountains is in the path of an gas drilling rush in the Northeast, to make the case on Capitol Hill that Congress needs to step in and protect public health and the environment from risks associated with gas development.
Ruffalo and Fox are being welcomed to DC by Congressmen Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Rush Holt (D-NJ), who are spearheading efforts to close oil and gas industry loopholes in the Safe Drinking Water Act and other laws designed to protect public health.
Earthjustice legislative associate Jessica Ennis is spending the day making the rounds on Capitol Hill with the actor and director. And then in the evening, they’ll bring their message to the public, with a free screening of Fox’s film followed by a panel discussion with Jessica and our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Working Group.
Thanks to Josh, Mark and the work of advocates all over the country, fracking has been catapulted into the national conversation, landing on both a 60 Minutes episode and the CBS crime drama CSI in the span of a single week.
Will this popular attention translate into action in Congress and reforms at the state level? It better. And soon. The millions of Americans whose health and drinking water supplies are at stake don’t have time to waste.