News Release

Breakthroughs Takes on Fracking: Environment New York Featured in Martin Sheen Documentary on Dirty Drilling Released to Public Television Stations in 50 States

For Immediate Release

This week, Martin Sheen’s Breakthroughs program released an expose on fracking featuring Environment America, the national arm of Environment New York, to public television stations across the nation.  As the debate over dirty drilling continues to mount, the Breakthroughs piece could reach as many as 60 million viewers in all 50 states.

“If fracking is allowed in New York it would take a terrible toll on our environment and health,” said Heather Leibowitz, the Director of Environment New York. “People should see and hear the truth before they find themselves living next door to dirty drilling.”

Shot on location in Pennsylvania – an epicenter of the fracking frenzy – the Breakthroughs segment features:

  • A Pennsylvania family whose well water was contaminated and whose granddaughter became ill after fracking operations commenced nearby;
  • Dr. Poune Saberi, who has examined health data from residents and workers nearby fracking operations and believes that the numerous, documented cases of residents becoming ill near drilling are likely “the tip of the iceberg,” and;
  • Lou Allstadt, former Executive Vice President of Mobil, explaining how he came to see that fracking is inherently fraught with environmental destruction.

While the piece narrated by Mr. Sheen will be exclusively aired on public television stations, a longer unofficial version is available at the Environment New York website.

With cases of water contamination, residents getting sick as well as other environmental damage in states where fracking is allowed, Environment New York is urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking.

Environment America cites the well-heeled public relations and lobbying efforts by the oil and gas industry as a key influence in fracking's quick expansion across the nation. However, recent polls show that public opinion is starting to turn.  According to a new Pew poll released in September, 49% of Americans now say they are opposed to more fracking. In New York, a new Marist/Wall Street Journal/NBC poll from November 26th shows 47% of New Yorkers oppose drilling, which is more than support it.

“Today Breakthroughs has provided a small dose of the much-needed antidote to millions of dollars spent by the oil and gas industry to make this dirty drilling appear 'clean' to the public,” said Heather Leibowitz.

The Breakthroughs documentary comes as Governor Cuomo recently announced he would make a decision on whether to allow fracking in New York before his 2014 election.

At the federal level, the Breakthroughs documentary comes as the Obama administration considers a rule for fracking on public lands, and as the oil and gas industry is seeking to expand fracking to several places which help provide drinking water for millions of Americans — including the White River National Forest in Colorado and the Delaware River basin, which provides drinking water for more than 9 million New Yorkers and 15 million Americans in total.

“When you listen to people living on the frontlines of fracking, health professionals, and even former industry executives, a clear warning sign emerges,” concluded Heather Leibowitz. “It’s time for Governor Cuomo to stop this fracking nightmare before it starts.”