Matt Damon, Hayden Panettiere Honored at Environmental Media Awards

'Promised Land' and 'House of Cards' Also Win

Hayden Panettiere, Matt Damon and Luciana Damon at the Environmental Media Awards
Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Matt Damon, Hayden Panettiere, Bill McKibben and Anna Getty may have been honored at last night’s Environmental Media Awards, but fracking was the real winner. Several anti-fracking films and TV shows, including Damon’s “Promised Land” and “Last Man Standing,” took home prizes at the 23rd annual ceremony held outdoors at Burbank’s Warner Bros. Studios lot.

“Insufferable do-gooder” Damon — as he was described by frenemy Jimmy Kimmel in an opening video — received the Ongoing Commitment Award for his efforts to provide underdeveloped countries access to clean water and sanitation. The co-founder of Water.org recalled his first water collection mission in Zambia in 2006, where he met a 14-year-old girl who aspired to move to the “big city” of Lusaka to become a nurse.

“She just reminded me so much of me and Ben (Affleck) when we were young and we were teenagers, 14 years old, and we were gonna be actors, and we were gonna go to the big city of New York,” Damon said. “I just really connected with her and it was then that I really realized it’s not just about saving somebody’s life so they can survive to the next day, it’s really about dignity and hope.”

After watching a clip of himself in Haiti at the inauguration of a new pump in a small village, Damon said he was reminded of another young teen who made him realize that access to clean water isn’t just a life or death issue. The actor asked a 13-year-old girl, who was in charge of water collection for her family, how she was going to spend the three hours she would now save daily.

“I asked, ‘What are you going to do with all this extra time?’” he said. “And she looks me right in the eyes and she goes, ‘I’m going to play.’”

Other acceptance speeches were much more lighthearted. Panettiere, the recipient of the Futures Award, said instead of waiting for the media to rally people to this cause, they need to take initiative to save the environment. After all, the tabloids are more concerned with her personal life and Miley Cyrus’ dancing habits than saving the planet, she said.

“I mean, the fact that I’m 5’2” and my boyfriend’s 6’6” is not going to help the environment,” she said. “It’s not. And twerking is not going to save the environment. I think it speeds it up.”

The “Nashville” star is the spokesperson for the marine conservation nonprofit the Whaleman Foundation.

Without a doubt, environmentalist Bill McKibben was the man of the hour. The Lifetime Achievement Award winner was praised by everyone who took the stage last night. However, McKibben said he’s reluctant to call himself a leader when we’re losing this fight for a greener world.

“We need ways not only of doing things that are fun and easy like driving cool cars, but we need things that make us uncomfortable and others uncomfortable,” the founder of the anti-carbon campaign group 350.org said. “This is the great fight of our lifetimes and for some of us, it’ll doubtless probably lead back to jail. I know that Norman Lear, when we talked earlier this year, made me promise that we’d figure out a way to get him in jail. He said it’s on his bucket list.”

The most humorous bit came from Digital Content Award presenters Julie Bowen and Constance Zimmer. “Constance, what the hell are you doing?” Bowen asked Zimmer, who was glued to her cell phone. “I’m just checking my Instagram pictures,” she responded. “Are you serious?” Bowen asked playfully. “What, come on, it’s environmental,” Zimmer said. “They’re saving paper by posting things digitally. Hold on, hold on, I’ve got to tweet Matt Damon here.”

Zimmer’s show “House of Cards” won the Television Episodic Drama Award, while Bowen’s series “Modern Family” lost to “Last Man Standing” in the Television Episodic Comedy category.

Complete list of winners:

Feature Film: Promised Land
Documentary Film: Gasland Part II
TV Episodic Drama: House of Cards, Chapter 9
TV Episodic Comedy: Last Man Standing, “Mother Fracker”
Reality TV: VICE Gangs & Oil
Children’s TV: Nick News with Linda Ellerbee “What’s the Deal with Fracking?”
Digital Content: Overview by Planetary Collective
Ongoing Commitment Award: Matt Damon
Futures Award: Hayden Panettiere
Lifetime Achievement Award: Bill McKibben
Green Parent Award: Anna Getty
Screen Actors Guild: Green Production Award, fifth consecutive Green Seal