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Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has for months delayed a final decision, but he reportedly is still considering a plan that would allow oil and gas companies to drill in portions of New York near the Pennsylvania border. A denial by Mr. Cuomo would represent a major defeat for the expansion of oil and gas drilling across the U.S, and opposition groups are pulling out all the stops.

“Over a number of years, we’ve been working to get some higher-profile celebrities engaged so people around the U.S. are aware of what’s going on” with fracking, Mr. Armstrong said, explaining the coordinated effort to involve celebrities in the fight against fracking. “It’s a grass-roots driven movement, but over time, that movement has reached out to mainstream institutions and celebrities and asked them to help amplify our voice and get the truth out.”

The IPAA and other oil and gas industry leaders concede that public attention, partly driven by celebrity activism, is focused on fracking like never before.

“There’s certainly an uptick in Hollywood’s involvement in energy issues. Part of the reason is, [critics’] arguments don’t stand up scientifically,” Mr. Eshelman said. “They can’t win this argument based on facts and science, so they have to turn to a community that is going to listen to them. They find that with the Hollywood crowd and the entertainment community.”