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Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono join hyodr-fracking opponents in Albany. Photo: Karen DeWitt
Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono join hyodr-fracking opponents in Albany. Photo: Karen DeWitt

Lennon, Ono lead opponents on last day of fracking comments

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Activists opposed to hydraulic fracturing in New York, including Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, attempted to present the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation with over 200,000 comments, on the last day of a public comment period on the gas drilling process.

They and other anti-fracking activists tried to deliver a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo as well.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

Ono and Lennon traveled to the Capitol on what could be the last day of the final public comment period on whether hydrofracking should go forward in New York.

Yoko Ono says Governor Cuomo should "tell the truth" about fracking.

"Fracking kills," said Ono. "So it's such a pity that we're going to do that, we're going to commit suicide all together?"

Sean Lennon says he and his mother first became concerned about the gas drilling practice when the Constitution Pipeline was planned to border the farm in the Catskills that Ono and her husband, the late John Lennon, bought decades ago. They say their worries about harmful effects from fracking "escalated", and led them to create their group, Artists Against Fracking.

"That house was my Dad's house and still is," Lennon said. "I'm sure he would have been on our side."

Ono and Lennon, along with a couple of dozen other anti-fracking activists, attempted to deliver a letter to Governor Cuomo, asking for a meeting. An aid politely accepted the missive. Cuomo was in New York City.

The anti-fracking groups also delivered boxes and boxes of paper that they said contained 204,000 signed public comments questioning the health and safety of hydrofracking.

"204,000 is a lot of votes," said Sandra Steingraber, an Ithaca College biologist. "Enough to swing an election, even in a big state like New York."

Assembly Democrats also held a lengthy hearing on fracking, in the first week of the legislative session, where opponents as well as supporters gave testimony.

Karen Moreau, with the Petroleum Institute has said that fracking can be done safely, with proper regulation. She argued that fracking should commence, and says the state has delayed long enough.

"New York has developed a reputation for studying economic development to death," Moreau said, "instead of doing economic development."

As Moreau was subjected to cat calls from opponents, she accused them of having a hypocritical "agenda against fossil fuels and against development of any kind".

"Nobody in this room comes to this place in a solar-powered vehicle," Moreau said. "There has to be a way forward."

It seems like the only person not talking much about fracking lately is Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo did not mention hydrofracking at all in his State of the State message, as hundreds of protesters chanted outside the hall where he gave his speech.

Cuomo says it wasn't necessary to bring up the topic.

"It had nothing to do with the speech," said Cuomo, who says his administration is still conducting a health review.

The governor's Health Commissioner, Dr. Nirav Shah, has asked three outside experts to review unspecified data on possible health effects of fracking. The experts have not yet issued their findings.

The governor has said he'll decide whether or not to permit the gas drilling in the state by late February, when the 90-day extension of a rulemaking process runs out.

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