MONTROSE, Pa. - Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and Susan Sarandon spoke out against fracking Thursday during a tour of natural-gas drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania, warning about what they view as the danger to air, water and human health.
The celebrities boarded a tour bus in New York City and headed to rural Susquehanna County to see gas wells, compressor stations and other evidence of the Marcellus Shale drilling boom, and to visit with residents who say they have been negatively impacted by drilling.
Ono and her son formed a group called "Artists Against Fracking" to oppose drilling in New York state, where they own a farm and where drilling and hydraulic fracturing have been on hold for several years while officials there develop regulations for the industry. Local anti-drilling activists led Thursday's tour in Pennsylvania, where thousands of wells have been drilled and fracked in recent years.
Yoko Ono, left, and her son Sean Lennon chat aboard a bus on the way to visit fracking sites in Pennsylvania Thursday. They are touring natural-gas drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania and visiting with residents who say they've been harmed by the controversial extraction process known as fracking.
At one well pad, Lennon guided his 79-year-old mother over mud and ice so they could get a better look.
"We hope that what's happened here will be a lesson for New Yorkers," he said. "I hope that New Yorkers will learn from this and tell Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo that it's not something we have to do."
Ono accused the gas industry of disregarding residents' welfare. "They care about making money," she said.
Drillers use the fracking technique to stimulate oil and gas production. It involves the high-pressure injection of millions of gallons of water, along with sand and chemical additives, deep underground to break apart shale rock and free the gas trapped inside it. The industry and many federal and state officials say fracking is safe when done properly, but environmental groups and some scientists contend the risk of contamination is too great.