Daryl Hannah, Hayden Panettiere, Other Celebs Demand Fracking Ban

Movie and TV stars condemn natural gas drilling, recycle misleading claims.

A group of Hollywood liberals are once again attacking natural gas drilling, commonly known as fracking.

A wealthy band of actors including eco-activist Daryl Hannah created a video demanding a ban on fracking, which The Huffington Post promoted Nov. 19. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, along with horizontal drilling is used to release natural gas from shale deposits deep underground. The celebrities, some worth more than $10 million, cited widely refuted criticisms of fracking while ignoring its economic benefits.

“What the Frack?” These celebrities began, ranting about how “Fracking pollution is making people sick across the country, and it needs to stop. Fracking makes climate change worse. Ban fracking now!”

Wilmer Valderrama, Hayden Panettiere, Marisa Tomei, Lance Bass, Darren Criss, Daryl Hannah, Amy Smart and others appeared in the video. Each of them is worth millions, the poorest being Darren Criss of “Glee,” whose net worth stands at mere $1.3 million.

But the ban they want would have significant economic repercussions. Shale gas fracking yielded $36 billion in 2011, according to a 2013 American Enterprise Institute report. Moreover, IHS Global Insight found that fracking supported 600,000 jobs in 2010, projecting that it will create 1.6 million jobs by 2035.

These celebrities will, of course, not lose their jobs or be significantly affected by the rising electricity prices that are likely to result from fracking bans.

Naturally, they tout a favorite liberal myth: that fracking contributes to climate change. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which promotes climate change alarmism, said in 2012 that fracking-related emissions are “less than half those of coal-fired electricity generation.”

The celebrities also claimed that fracking contaminates drinking water with toxic chemicals and causes cancer. Many claims of water contamination have turned out to be unrelated to fracking. In 2011, Environmental Protection Agency officials told Congress that there were no proven cases of fracking contaminating water at that time, although there were investigations going on. The Washington Times reported in April 2012 that in Pennsylvania, state regulators found after a 16 month investigation that fracking was not responsible for the high methane levels of three families’ water.

Scientists have also failed to find a connection between fracking and cancer, as reported by the Associated Press. Fracking critics often cite towns in Northern Texas which allegedly experienced breast cancer spikes. However, Simon Craddock Lee, a professor with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and David Risser, a doctor with the Texas Cancer Registry, have both failed to find a relation between fracking and cancer in these towns.

Many of these misconceptions about fracking come from environmental activist Josh Fox’s 2010 documentary “Gasland.” The 2013 documentary “FrackNation,” created by Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, has refuted many of the claims of “Gasland.” “FrackNation” also exposes the widespread attacks by the media on natural gas.

The news media have often relied on Hollywood’s claims about fracking. The MRC’s Business and Media Institute found that from Jan. 1, 2010, to April 30, 2013, fully half (18 of 36) of the broadcast network news reports discussion fracking mentioned or cited an anti-fracking film or included a famous opponent of the process. 

— Sean Long is Staff Writer at the Media Research Center. Follow Sean Long on Twitter.