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Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Deliver Letter to Cuomo on Last Day for Fracking Comments

Anti fracking activists, including Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, attempted to present the state’s environmental agency with over 200,000 comments, on the last day of a public comment period on the gas drilling process.  As Karen DeWitt reports, they also, along with other anti fracking activists, tried to deliver a letter to Governor Cuomo.

The wife and son of slain Beatle John Lennon traveled to the Capitol on what could be the last day of the final public comment period on whether hydro fracking 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 altogether?”

Sean Lennon says he and his mother first became concerned about the gas drilling practice when the Constitution Pipeline was planned to border their farm in the Catskills, purchased by John Lennon and Yoko Ono 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 hydro fracking.

“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, who believes fracking can be done safely, with proper regulation, argued for fracking to commence. She 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 hydro fracking 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.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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