Actor Mark Ruffalo tells SLO County to vote Yes on Measure G

Actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays the Hulk in the “Avengers” movies, has weighed in on a hot San Luis Obispo County election issue.

In a video posted to Twitter on Friday morning, he urged voters to say “yes” to a local measure that would ban fracking and new oil drilling in areas of the Central Coast county.

“Hey everybody, Mark Ruffalo here with a message of support for the people of beautiful San Luis Obispo County,” Ruffalo said in a selfie video posted on his verified Twitter account.

“Send a message to the nation that we need to take control of our future and protect our precious water supplies. Vote ‘yes’ on Measure G and have a great day. Thanks.”

A group called the Coalition to Protect San Luis Obispo County Supporting Measure G says the measure would protect groundwater by preventing a large expansion at the Price Canyon Oil Field, where operators dispose contaminated water into drinking aquifers. Fracking would make that even worse, Measure G supporters say.

More than 20,000 San Luis Obispo County residents signed a petition to have the measure placed on the ballot in 2018.

Fracking is a form of oil extraction that uses a high-pressure combination of chemicals and water to fracture underground rocks to release oil and gas. It isn’t used in the county yet, but it could be in the future.

Communities around the country where fracking has been used say that it has polluted water supplies and caused earthquakes.

The oil industry says fracking has been done safely for decades.

Oil companies including Chevron, who oppose Measure G, have poured nearly $8 million into the local election with a campaign called Stop the Oil and Gas Shutdown, A Coalition of Concerned San Luis Obispo Taxpayers, and Energy Companies that Create Jobs for our Local Economy.

Local news matters

We rely on readers like you more than ever before to support us as we tell stories about the people and issues important to SLO County readers.

Subscribe to The Tribune today for just 99 cents for your first month — and help ensure we can provide strong local journalism for many years to come. #ReadLocal

Opponents have said that Measure G would shut down existing oil production and put people out of work, which is not exactly true.

If passed, the measure would allow current extraction to continue, but eventually phase out local production by not allowing it to expand. The oil industry currently contributes $2.3 million in local taxes.

Ruffalo’s pro-Measure G video, posted at 9 a.m. Friday, had been viewed about 34,200 times as of 3 p.m. and had more than 2,100 likes.

Most replies to Ruffalo’s post offered support for the statement. A person who identified herself as Meggin Lane wrote “I’m so proud of you Mark for stepping up and being the superhero in real life.”

Not all comments were favorable.

A person who identified himself as Thomas Black wrote, “That’s right. Then price yourselves out, move to Texas where it’s strikingly less expensive because they don’t make idiot economic decisions.”

New Times reporter Christopher McGuinness stepped in with a zinger, tweeting, “Apparently the Hulk approves of smashing, but not fracking.”

Ruffalo, a three-time Oscar nominee whose credits include “Foxcatcher,” “Spotlight” and “The Kids Are All Right,” is a vocal critic of fracking and an advocate for environmental issues.

In 2011, he founded a Brooklyn-based non-profit, Water Defense, aimed at banning hydraulic fracturing in New York and Colorado. Ruffalo honored clean-energy activists as superheroes at an event organized by The Solutions Project in Atlanta in 2017.

“We are in a race against climate change,” Ruffalo wrote in a 2015 editorial for Grist.org, calling for “more grassroots activism and a commitment to live our American values. We don’t need a superhero, but maybe we do need more people to get angry and turn that into action.”

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930; @MonicaLVaughan
Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune