Is Mark Ruffalo America’s Shallowest Celebrity?

gentry class - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Mark Ruffalo may well take top honors as America’s shallowest celebrity, if his participation in a recent Catskill Mountainkeeper video is any indication.

A reader of my recent post on the subject the Catskill Mountainkeeper’s mountain of hypocrisy noticed the actor Mark Ruffalo appears in a video I shared in that post. He observed Ruffalo was riding an old Wheel Horse lawn tractor powered by fossil fuels in the video, something that deserve yet another award for hypocrisy except that Ruffalo, to be fair, was trying to make a point by contrasting the tractor with his solar panels. Unfortunately for him, though, the comparison was a patently false one and Ruffalo only demonstrated his ignorance, suggesting he should get an award, not for hypocrisy, but perhaps be America’s shallowest celebrity (assuming Miley Cyrus isn’t in the competition).

Here is the Mark Ruffalo video clip that our reader’s attention:

The phoniness of the whole thing, with Ruffalo hauling around Betta Broad in a wagon behind his Wheel Horse and the other interviews, is a huge turnoff for anyone familiar with the facts and the backgrounds on the other individuals to who Broad talked. I’d like to focus on but two things, though; Ruffalo’s claim solar and wind are not less expensive in some countries than fossil fuels and his other claim that his solar panels represent the future and will deliver him free energy someday.

Is the man really that gullible? Well, of course he is. If Art Linkletter were still around he’d be doing a program called “Celebrities Say the Dumbest Things” and Mark Ruffalo would be the guest for the pilot episode.

Mark Ruffalo

Mark Ruffalo’s Subsidized Upstate Solar System in Use at His Second Home (lower right corner)

Why do I say that? Well, let’s start with that solar system in Mark Ruffalo’s country backyard (pictured above). It wasn’t free. Here, in fact are the details from a fawning story in Ecorazzi (emphasis added):

Ruffalo’s installation comes thanks to Sungevity, which recently has started servicing customers in New York State (but still, sadly, not in my hometown of Ithaca, NY – C’mon!). The “Avengers” star said that his total out-of-pocket expenses for the $40K system were just over $9K – and prove that solar energy is starting to reach an affordable level for consumers.

“This system did not involve huge upfront costs,” he says. “The great thing about the system is that it can be leased with no upfront money. Most middle class families can get this system without shelling out a huge amount of cash. In the past, solar was prohibitive because it cost a large sum of money to put it up. With leasing, they take your monthly fee out of the energy you are saving every month by producing your own energy. I will be saving more than $1,200 a year with this system.

“The reason I got this system was because I didn’t want to shell out $40,000 right off the top,” he added. “I wanted to show to people what was possible.”

Mark Ruffalo, of course, would have us believe the benefits he received were all in the ability to lease the system and that it was his altruism that led him to do the project this way rather than buy the system outright (he’s worth a reported $20 million according to Celebrity New Worth) but the facts (assembled some time ago by Joe Massaro in this Energy In Depth piece suggest otherwise. Here’s the rub:

review of the incentives in New York suggest he was eligible for as much as a $5,000 tax incentive from the state and a $4,500 tax credit from the feds on top of his $10,000 rebate.  Ruffalo then gets $1,200 per year back on his $9,000 investment.  That’s a 13.3% return.  Meanwhile, local residents desperate for natural gas development to save their farms have to endure Ruffalo’s attempts to cut the legs from beneath them so he can say he “walks the walk and talks the talk.”

Joe might have added those farmers and other ratepayers and taxpayers who don’t get to play a big green hulk for big green bucks have to pay for his subsidies. No, solar energy is far from free. It just relies upon other people’s money and there isn’t enough of that to solarize the whole world or even a small part of it.

LIkewise, Ruffalo doesn’t tell us who those five countries are but we can guess one of them might have been Australia, whose renewable wind energy program was, a little over two years touted by Climate Progress as one of those places. The headline from February 10, 2013 is “In Australia, Wind Power Is Already Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels, And Solar Is Right Behind.” Here’s a sampling from the article:

According to the latest research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, electricity from wind power can now be supplied more cheaply in Australia than power from either coal or natural gas — and solar and other forms of renewable energy aren’t far behind.

Older coal-fired power plants from the 70s and 80s still compete at lower prices than renewables — but only because their construction costs have depreciated. For the deployment of any new power generation in Australia, renewables now appear to be the way to go.

Australia currently charges polluters $23 in Australian dollars per metric ton of carbon they emit, but the study concluded that wind power would still undercut fossil fuels even without that correction of the market’s failure to properly build in the costs of carbon pollution…

Notice that the authors don’t label the $23 per metric of carbon charge as a subsidy; rather, they call it a correction and got to great lengths it wouldn’t matter – but, of course, it does. Now, fast forward to today and another article in Watts Up With That, which quickly gets to the point. It’s about the Australian government dialing down its renewables subsidies and a move by their Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, who has ordered the government Clean Energy Corporation not to subsidize any new wind farm projects.

Mark Ruffalo

An Australian Wind Farm – Click to Read About Subsidies Employed to Build It

Predictably, all the renewables industry insiders, green groups and media types are going apoplectic about what this would mean for renewables, Australia’s promise…blah, blah, blah. But, as the author of the piece notes, the wind folks have been saying for years that they can compete. He poignantly observes the following:

The wind industry has regularly claimed for years that their technology is close to cost parity with coal. So I expect the withdrawal of government subsidies for wind turbines will have no impact on future wind projects.

I’d say they might better go to gas than coal, but the point remains; if what Mark Ruffalo and that article from two years ago said is really true, than what’s the problem? Get the government out of it and let the flowers bloom, right? The truth is that renewables can only  make it with subsidies of money by the government and subsidies of energy in the form of reliable suppliers such as gas when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

Don’t expect Mark Ruffalo to get it, though. He’s on an ego trip from winning the America’s Shallowest Celebrity award.

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15 thoughts on “Is Mark Ruffalo America’s Shallowest Celebrity?

  1. Tom,

    It would be nice if the government would stay out of the subsidy business altogether and let the market decide.

    However, the government has been picking winners and losers since John D went out west at the turn of the last century, either through direct subsidy or tax incentives. Coal, oil, and natural gas have benefited from federal and state policies, in particular those designed to support our automobile industry and culture, and still do even as incentives are now also applied to renewables. These policies survive both Demopublican and Republocrat administrations, usually with minor nibling around the edges.

    As for Australia, the subsidies were to be only until the wind industry gets on their feet, so at some point it is appropriate that those subsidies are modified or eliminated, assuming that other energy industries are being treated the same.

    As for the town and country lifestyle, given today’s technologies it leaves a big carbon footprint, something that the NY Times columnist Roger Cohen pointed out years ago when the fracking debate started. It’s a contradiction, one of the reasons – of a few (eg I’m the hayseed; my wife was born and raised in the city and just never got into the country lifestyle) – that helped drive me to reluctantly give up my farmhouse in Sullivan County.

    As technologies develop and mature, this problem won’t be such an issue.

    Mark’s solar panels ameliorates things somewhat. Eventually, better to super-insulate, drive electric (powered by solar panels that are hooked up to a grid that gets power from renewables), and live in a walkable urban community surrounded by countryside.

    I’ll have more to say on the issues of embodied energy, retrofitting and lean urbanism. I’m working on something and when it’s ready, that may be the time for me to take you up on your offer to guest blog.

    • dogma-

      spoken like a true NYC or Ithaca coercive utopian. we are deeply saddened that you had to pull up stakes and retreat to the pristine carbon-free bosom of Manhattan.

      the “market” for renewables is already obvious in Germany. heavy govt subsidies and 35cents/KW electricity. i used to not be terribly offended by 300′ wind turbines, but since they are exhaustively championed of late by the far left that so badly ripped me off- now not so much. the negative environmental impact that they would create to even begin to make a dent in the total energy picture around here (heat, transportation, hot water) would dwarf relatively unobtrusive shale drilling. $$olar in the 2nd cloudiest place in the nation? brilliant. retrofitting every house in Johnson City and Binghamton etc… (where most people are near poverty level) with new windows, doors and insulation- who’s going to pay for that?… you’ve heard of the NYS gasoline tax right, that hurts those who can least afford to pay?

      NY is a real life Hunger Games- a one party state where poor rural serfs serve your NYC, under the thoroughly sadistic and corrupt Andrew Cuomo- whose policies make a mockery of reality.

      • Spoken like a true class warrior. You are absorbing your lessons from Tom very well. Vladimir Lenin would be proud: Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your gas wells!

  2. Bit of a toss up between him and that one I’d say.

    Speaking of the video though and the broads (including Betta) who made it, love new york don’t frack it’s website appears to be temporarily down. Good thing there are other ways to access the important work of Ms Broad of the Catskillmountainkeeper and her millionaire friend Susan Van Dolsen… like facebook pages. Here Ms Van Dolsen does some important work by taking a video with a lot of nonsense and a conspiracy theory on the port ambrose project cooked up by the new york antifracking movemement to college students in Queens with some of her friends from NYPIRG! Perhaps my most favorite video of the millionaire Susan Van Dolsen is on a site called capitalism vs the climate. One has to wonder if Susan’s husband has renounced capitalism as well. ( All the better for us as I bet they have a nice enough place that one could squat at. Looks like the New York City episode with David Braun (see Californians against Fracking now) hasn’t received as many views as the fascinating Rockaway episode.

  3. …and back to the article, more classic stuff- the naive young woman with the nasal voice driving all over the state in a fossil fuel powered car to protest fossil fuels. the interviewees all perpetuate the lie that their quaint politically correct lifestyle will be destroyed and all water will be polluted. northern PA proves otherwise. this while spouting ridiculous new left-speak terms like foodshed, viewshed, and airshed… this would be hilarious if not for the fact that these inmates run the asylum in NY, and they have inflicted massive financial damage on landowners with impunity.

  4. Mark and the rest of his New York City high rise environmental phonies, all heat their Manhattan apartments with that good clean burning hydro fracked natural gas. You’d think that they would be buying up all of that land in the New York Southern Tier, and get away from that New York City smog, now wouldn’t you?

  5. Speaking of Susan Van Dolsen one can watch her and just one of the groups she is involved with in an important recent news event protesting a pipeline. New Yorkers against Fracking has tweeted this as ” Peekskill residents” protesting expansion of Algonquin Pipeline

    Sane Energy project (a group that has claimed to have between 3000 and 5000 members which is fictitious along with any claim that they might also be Peekskill residents) has a message for you and the world from the Schumer event-” Solidarity it’s working”. They and at least one of their pals from the stop the FERCUS event and Beyond Extreme energy brought their United States of Fracking poster to their PR event at Schumer’s with Susan Van Dolsen. The art work looks just like Occupy the puppets’ Kim Fraczeks’ work for previous FERC protests as well but what do I know? See Kim Fraczek’s write up of the events there.

  6. As I have noted before. the tax credits and the NYSEG payback are a salesmans con. You can only get the tax credits if your income is enough to pay this much in taxes. like 20 mill a year. If you are collecting Social Security or a retirement or have many dependents. In other words if you have children you already receive hefty Child tax credits from NYS and the feds which probably already credits most of your taxes back to you. So you won’t have a credit to claim. So the average family has to pay out that $40k and hope that they make enough money to get it back. Good luck in NY.
    NYSEG offers net metering that subtracts what you use from what you produce. At the end of the year you ” Cash out at avoided expense” which means they roll your credits over to the next year. If the company is leasing the system they have found a way to group all of their producers together as an industrial supply which means that they get paid by NYSEG for this over production.

  7. Pingback: The Potemkin Village World of Solar Energy

  8. The weight of misinformation can crush the truth. Ruffalo has been testified to in court as one who paid anti frackers to carry around phony jugs of colored water and claim fracking did it to their wells, phony water test and claim they were real. Its a matter of record in Dimock PA.

    These provocateurs of clean energy fail to leave out the truth of how polluting it is with carcinogenic chemicals, panels that can only be discharged in hazzourdous waste approved landfills. They neglect to tell you that 90% of all solar panels are made with no environmental regulation in China where forced child labor is often used. They never talk about fishkills in entire rivers where the solar plants are dumping directly into them.

    Most importantly the leaders of the anti-fossil fuel movement do not discuss or reveal the source of their 6 figure incomes from billionaire elitist and foreign influences who depend on the American market to sell their own fossil fuels too. It is time that the farmer, the landowner recognize the weight of misinformation can not only crush the truth, but destroy opportunity, divide families, destroy communities, and empower false ideologies.

    Join me in the grassroots effort to make more people aware of the truth so that decisions can be made based on the merit of scientific information, not the deception of paid and hired activist who use their illgotten gains on new cars, yachts,and 5000
    Send an email to me, Victor Furman, of Landowner Advocates of New York, LANY.
    and join me in fighting for your rights to your property , affordable energy, and truth. You need not be a landowner to join

  9. Mistake to make the lead post so sneering and ad hominem. I was interested in knowing the FACTS but as half the article was demonizing I moved on to read less emotional takes elsewhere.

      • Tom, you acknowledge the validity of Peter’s comment, and then you double down.

        The UN says 10 years. TEN YEARS or our grandchildren are doomed.

        Icelandic fisherman can’t fish in the waters that they have historically fished in for centuries because there is no longer enough oxygen in the waters surrounding the island nation for them to breathe. The fish were suffocating: they have migrated north.

        Wake up.

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