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Yoko Ono, Son Among Artists Touring PA Fracking Sites

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TWC News: Yoko Ono, Son Among Artists Touring PA Fracking Sites
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A group of celebrity activists, including Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and Susan Sarandon, traveled to Pennsylvania Thursday for an anti-fracking tour.

Members of "Artists Against Fracking" are taking a closer look at some areas where the controversial practice has been done.

Fracking, which is short for hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial natural gas extraction method.

The method is used in about 40 counties in Pennsylvania.

New York State is poised to lift its moratorium on fracking, assuming the Department of Environmental Conservation accepts the report issued last summer.

According to that report, there is consideration of lifting that moratorium in five counties along the Pennsylvania border.

Some say the New York City watershed will be protected no matter what happens, but Artists Against Fracking rejected that claim.

"While saying that you're going to protect the New York City aquifers, you are admitting, one, that it's not safe, and you are also admitting that somehow, it's OK to drill near other people, rural communities, and poison their water," Lennon said.

Critics say once fracking is allowed, damage to the land is irreversible.

"My grandfather talked about nonviolence," said Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. "And it's not just about nonviolence against human beings. It was nonviolence against nature, against ecology, environment, everything."

Proponents from more rural areas say the industry will bring jobs and economic activity.

Industry defenders also say the fracking process has improved.

"They've constantly gotten better, for sure," said Tom Shepstone of the Northeast Marcellous Initiative. "What we've seen, for example, we've seen more and more casing being used all the time. When the process started, we had maybe two or three layers of casing. We are now seeing four or five."

Opponents say fracking is unsafe and has severe consequences for the environment.

"Not everyone knows how dangerous it is. Basically, your drinking water is at stake, there's over 600 toxic chemicals and hydrocarbons that get injected into the ground that leak into the aquifers. And then there's also the question of being released into the atmosphere," Lennon said.

"They keep saying, 'oh, the jobs that they have to get, New York State,'" Ono said. "No. They don't do that. They just bring people from Texas or something because they have to be professional to do this job."

Last week, a number of the activists were at the State Capitol and wanted to meet with Governor Andrew Cuomo. They also have gone through the process of requesting an official meeting with the governor on this issue but say that so far, he has refused.

"We have officially submitted a request to meet with Governor Cuomo from all the activists groups, New Yorkers Against Fracking, Frack Action, Artists Against Fracking," Lennon said. "We know that he's been speaking with the gas companies.

"He has a lot of pressure on him because of the economy," Sarandon said. "There's just a lot of corporate influence in politics. That's just the way it works these days."

Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation have until February 27 to finalize new regulations for hydrofracking. The governor has said he will make a decision based on the science.

More than 200,000 signatures from those who are against the measure have been sent to Albany. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP