Watch CBS News

Lennon Family, Other Celebrities Launch Anti-Fracking Group In New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's star-power versus the energy industry, as the widow and son of the late John Lennon announced a campaign to prevent natural gas hydrofracking in New York State.

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon announced at a new conference Wednesday the formation of a group called Artists Against Fracking, along with actor Mark Ruffalo. Others joining the cause include Lady Gaga, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney and Alec Baldwin.

Despite the big names involved, supporters of fracking said they won't back down.

"They're not scientists, they're not engineers, they're not geologists. They're not the people that develop natural gas," hydrofracking investor Nancy Schmidt told CBS 2's Lou Young.

The controversial mining process pulls trapped natural gas from deep underground by injecting water, sand and traces of some toxic chemicals deep into rock called the Marcellus Shale in the mountains upstate. Industry backers insist it's not a threat to the water supply.

"Aquifers are in the shallow earth. The natural gas that we want to develop is in the deep earth," below the drinking water supply, Schmidt said.

Artists Against Fracking is just the latest group to voice opposition to the mining practice.

"It's really unfair to our children to just ignore this thing and to be deceived by a company which is basically trying to make money with this," Yoko Ono told Young.

Fracking technology is currently in use as close by as Pennsylvania, but not in New York. The new production has driven down the price of natural gas, but critics said too much can go wrong.

"If it's something that needs to be exempt from the Clean Air and Safe Drinking Water Acts, then clearly it's inherently unsafe," Sean Lennon said.

Some local residents said they were mixed over whether to support fracking.

"I'm all for us trying to get as much energy out of this country as we can and I don't like the attacks on the producers of energy in this country," one Mamaroneck woman told Young.

"My impression is that it's environmentally and ecologically damaging and that there are other options. As a Democrat and a liberal I am against it," another woman from Mamaroneck told Young.

The state has already placed major upstate watersheds off-limits for hydrofracking, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to get a new set of potential guidelines for allowing the industry to set up soon.

Proposed rules for hydrofracking are being drawn up by the New York State Department of Enviromental Conservation, but the governor has the final say.

What do you think about fracking? Do you think the lower cost of natural gas outweighs the potential risks? Share your thoughts below...

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.