At a town hall meeting held in a high school gymnasium, Sean Lennon listened to energy companies give their pitch to build a pipeline through Delaware County farms and wilderness. Asked by a neighbor to attend the event, Lennon, whose parents, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, bought a farm nearby before he was born, saw the pushback from the community firsthand. His reaction led to the formation of Artists Against Fracking, a group of artists, musicians and filmmakers dedicated to bringing attention to the damages and environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing.
“The gas companies didn’t seem to care. They gave us the feeling that whether we liked it or not, they were going to fracture our little town,” he wrote in an op-ed published by The New York Times on Monday.
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is soon expected to announce whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for oil and natural gas will be allowed in the state, so Lennon and his mom took action and formed Artists Against Fracking, now comprised of 180 members, including Lady Gaga and Robert De Niro.
On Wednesday actor and ardent anti-fracking activist Mark Ruffalo, structural engineer Anthony Ingraffea, author of studies on shale formations and infrastructure, and Josh Fox, director of Oscar-nominated Gasland, joined Lennon and Ono yesterday to announce their group to the press.
“There are so many good fractivist groups, so we looked for what wasn’t out there already—a niche we could fill very easily,” said Lennon at the press conference. “We came together basically because the issue is a no-brainer.”
To obtain natural gas and oil from shale formations, energy companies employ hydraulic fracturing to crack rocks thousands of feet below the surface. This is done by pumping millions of gallons of water and a mixture of chemicals into the ground. Yet the process is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, and people who live near fracking wells say that methane mixes with what comes out of their taps (which they demonstrate by lighting the water that comes out of their faucet on fire).
To motivate Cuomo to ban fracking, Lennon and Ono urge people to visit the Artists Against Fracking website and write a letter or call the governor. “It’s just unfair to our children to ignore this,” said Ono.