SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY — A frenzy of cameras, reporters, and celebrities rolled through Susquehanna County.
Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Susan Sarandon and other stars said they were struck with what the natural gas industry has done in these communities.
“There’s not enough attention and that’s why I feel so badly that we didn’t know. And it’s great that we came here today. It’s very important for us to be here,” said Yoko Ono.
The Mercedes bus tour went through much of the Montrose area, stopping at well pads, compressor sites, and homes of families affected by drilling.
“Meeting those people was definitely an eye opener for me because these are the kinds of people that apparently don’t exist according to the gas industry,” said Sean Lennon.
But the natural gas industry says this tour is overlooking the benefits this drilling brings, like jobs, tax dollars and help for area schools.
“It’s definitely a celebrity tour, it’s a stunt, and I have to wonder if it’s not connected with Sean Lennon releasing an album yesterday,” said Energy Indepth Campaign Director Tom Shepstone.
Once this bus returns to New York City from Susquehanna County, the stars on it hope to persuade New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to stop fracking in their state, and maybe even set a precedent for the entire country.
Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is the process of injecting fluid underground to break up shale deposits and extract natural gas.
“We have to recognize that we are committing violence against nature, against resources, against environment and eventually this is going to destroy us, destroy humanity,” said Arun Gandhi.
“We have to make our voices heard, we have to educate people because once they know, there’s nothing more basic than water, you give up your water you’re done,” said Susan Sarandon.
Families like the Mannings are just thankful these artists are taking the time to hear their stories.
“I think it’s great that there’s other people besides us that realize the truth about all this stuff,” said Matthew Manning of Franklin Forks.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has until late February to approve environmental regulations that would open New York State up to the type of natural gas drilling you can find throughout Susquehanna County. The Empire State has been reviewing these regulations since 2008.