Actor Mark Ruffalo releases video to raise awareness of 'fracking'

Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a process in which sand, water and chemicals are injected into the ground to release valuable natural gas reserves.

Environmental groups and some policymakers have bashed the practice, raising concerns about potential drinking water contamination and environmental damage.

Ruffalo, in a conference call with reporters on Monday, explained that as he looked deeper into the issue in places like Pennsylvania he saw “ugly things” -- like how the walls of some Pennsylvania residences exploded, and water became contaminated to the point where people couldn’t drink tap water or take showers.

“If I’m a man of conscience and I am who I say that I am, then I have to get involved,” Ruffalo explained.

The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a study on the practice but that isn’t expected to be completed until 2012.

Democrats in both the House and Senate are pushing legislation that would give the agency the authority to regulate "fracking" under the Safe Drinking Water Act. But the bill faces opposition from Republicans, who argue that fracking should be regulated at the state level.

-- Andrew Restuccia contributed