Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ruffalo, Filmmaker Take on Fracking | 'Dear President Obama' Advocates for Clean Energy

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ruffalo, Filmmaker Take on Fracking | 'Dear President Obama' Advocates for Clean Energy

Article excerpt


SARASOTA -- Florida residents may associate fracking with states such as Oklahoma or Pennsylvania. Some may picture wells in areas surrounded by nothing but barren fields, land that would be useless if not for oil and gas companies.

Others may see a new way to free the United States of its dependence on foreign oil, or a temporary solution while the country builds a green energy infrastructure.

Actor Mark Ruffalo and documentarian Jon Bowermaster want to shatter those ideas.

Ruffalo and Bowermaster hosted a Sarasota screening of their new documentary "Dear President Obama," which highlights the ill effects of America's oil and natural gas industry.

About 160 people attended the sold-out screening Thursday evening and a subsequent question-and-answer session at Burns Court Theater, most of whom were able to get pictures with the "Spotlight" and "The Avengers" star after the event.

Bowermaster, who also was behind documentaries such as "After the Spill," "Dear Governor Cuomo," and "On the Edge," said the film is especially important for Florida residents, who will likely experience the effects of sea-level rise before the rest of the country. Fracking is happening as close as Naples, Bowermaster said.

"Here in Florida, it's potentially a huge deal," Bowermaster said. "It's not a big deal until you wake up and there's a rig next door."

The film began by juxtaposing Obama's words on American oil and gas with scenes of groaning machines, stripped Earth and oil rigs looming over kids on a playground.

It noted that about 17 million Americans live within one mile of a new oil or gas rig, and sought to tap experiences of a variety of people from rural Pennsylvania to suburban Los Angeles and various walks of life to describe how extreme energy extraction -- particularly fracking -- had affected their lives.

Fracking is a process used to mine oil and natural gas from oil sands and shale deposits. The process works by shooting water, mixed with a variety of chemicals and sand, far below the Earth's surface. That blast widens fractures in rock, allowing natural gas to be extracted. …

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