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Mark Ruffalo: "We Need New York City Desperately"

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Mark Ruffalo: "We Need New York City Desperately"

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A suspect in the shooting death of actor Mark Ruffalo's brother has been released by police.

Mark Ruffalo is not your average filmmaker or silver screen sweetheart. The "The Kids Are All Right" star has a passion for politics and the environment, too.

On Wednesday night, he hosted a panel discussion on one of his big political issues: hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking.'

"This issue is a no-brainer," Ruffalo said. "We’re on the right side. Maybe people can’t agree on global warming, but we can agree on clean water. There’s a sanctity to our water and it’s under attack.”

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that creates fractures in rocks. Oil and gas companies use it to more easily tap into oil reserves in the ground -- but environmentalists say it contaminates water supplies.

New York is currently debating legislation to curtail fracking. In December, Gov. David Patterson vetoed a bill that would put a moratorium on the process, but he issued an executive order prohibiting it until at least July.

At the panel discussion at Exit Art, Ruffalo encouraged New Yorkers to rally around the issue.

“I felt an immediate responsibility to be part of this,” he said. “I beg you to participate. You have one of the loudest voices in the world. The world is looking to [you] for guidance. We need New York City desperately.”

Ruffalo praised Josh Fox's documentary "Gasland" for raising awareness of the issue. He said it shows the oil and gas industry's refusal to take responsibility.

“It’s all about dollars and cents," he said. "It pisses me off. It’s so lacking in any kind of decency or courage. They’re a bunch of slugs and they treat people like dirt. They are basically scumbags. It’s a damn Ponzi scheme.”

Ruffalo proved well spoken and candid. He elicited some laughs, however bittersweet, upon reminding the crowd that the vulnerable upstate watershed, if fracked, will directly impact New York City drinking water with its high concentration of chemicals.

“(Crap) rolls downhill, and [New Yorkers] are at the bottom of the hill," he said. "This stuff is comin’ your way.”

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