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“Superhero” Ads, Protesters Pressure Cuomo on Fracking

January 4, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. - Critics of fracking are to protest today at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "State of the State address, hoping to tell the governor that he should slow the rush toward horizontal drilling for natural gas in New York's Marcellus Shale.

Meanwhile, those worried about fracking's impact on New York's water have a new superhero, in a television ad produced by the Water Rangers Coalition. Wearing tights and a cape, he's played by a familiar character actor, Albany-born Adam Lefevre.

"Gov. Cuomo, you have a choice to make: you can protect our drinking water or roll out the red carpet for the gas industry."

The public comment period on new state rules for fracking ends a week from today. Proponents say it will bring jobs and energy to the state, while critics fear clean water and the environment will be threatened by the logistics and chemicals used in fracking.

Wes Gillingham, program director for Catskill Mountainkeeper - a member of the Water Rangers Coalition - says he and others will be outside the Capitol to tell Cuomo they think he's pushing the decision-making process on fracking forward too quickly.

"There hasn't been a health impact assessment done. There hasn't been real scientific data on some of the geologic problems across the state, and the whole issue of where the wastewater is going to go. It's a huge can of worms that he hasn't really dealt with."

Susan Zimet, producer of the anti-fracking "superhero" ad, says she opted for a humorous spot in an effort to stand out against bigger-budget ad campaigns in favor of it by the energy industry.

"When you're going up against a massive amount of money that the oil industry has, in terms of running these commercials all over the country - like these very 'green energy,' feel-good, mom and apple pie - and the grassroots groups don't have the kind of resources."

More from the TV spot:

"I'm here every day protecting New York's waters. I am a Water Ranger. I'm just one of thousands of heroes fighting to safeguard our water from industrial gas drilling called fracking."

Zimet says Lefevre - known from television's "Law and Order" and films such as "Fair Game" and "Philadelphia" - agreed to stuff his oversized body into a unitard to play the part because, as a native New Yorker, he is concerned about its water.

Watch the TV spot at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIDq2I5_Lc4.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY