Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, the widow and son of late Beatles singer John Lennon, and actress Susan Sarandon recently toured Pennsylvania natural gas drilling sites to speak out against fracking.
The three longtime peace and environmental activists visited natural gas wells, compressor stations and residents affected by the practice in Pennsylvania on Thursday, January 17, according to the Associated Press. Ono and Sean are the founders of the "Artists Against Fracking" initiative," which includes at least 180 celebrity supporters.
On Thursday's tour, Sean, 37, guided his 79-year-old mother through the icy, muddy terrain, according to the Associated Press, which quoted Ono, who sporting her trademark sunglasses, as saying that the gas industry disregards the welfare of residents and only cares "about making money."
She and her son own a farm in New York state. The state is expected to lift a suspension on fracking and implement new environmental regulations issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The group launched an inquiry into the practice and in 2011, released a report with guidelines on how to continue it but at the same time, reduce and avoid contamination of air and water.
The report also stated that the suspension could be lifted in five counties along the Pennsylvania border, according to New York TV station NY1.
"While saying that you're going to protect the New York City aquifers, you are admitting, one, that it's not safe, and you are also admitting that somehow, it's OK to drill near other people, rural communities, and poison their water," the outlet quoted Sean as saying during Thursday's tour.
Fracking involves drilling land and injecting a mix of water, sand and chemicals in a bid to free trapped gas. Opponants say it not only contaminates the environment, but also may be the cause of earthquakes -- a theory that remains under dispute.
Supporters say fracking stimulates oil and gas production and could help the economy. In last year's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama called to "promote safe, responsible development of the near 100-year supply of natural gas, supporting more than 600,000 jobs while ensuring public health and safety."
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation have until February 27 to finalize new fracking regulations, NY1 reported, quoting Sarandon as saying: "He has a lot of pressure on him because of the economy. There's just a lot of corporate influence in politics. That's just the way it works these days."
In 2010, Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bruce Banner / The Hunk in the 2012 blockbuster "The Avengers," was reportedly placed on a terror advisory list for speaking out against fracking. The actor had organized screenings of a documentary about the practice -- "Gasland." He is one of the celebrities who support the "Artists Against Fracking" initiative.
Sean told the cable channel HLN in October 2012 that he was inspired to help launch Artists Against Fracking after Ono showed him the "Gasland" documentary.
"And then what happened is the property that I grew up on -- that my mom and dad had before I was born -- which is upstate New York, there's a pipeline there that's being proposed to go from Pennsylvania all the way to Susquehanna," he said. "That just made me feel compelled to act, because it's my home -- it's my drinking water."
"[Fracking] is a very dangerous thing, so at least people have to know that," Ono added. "And John [Lennon] and I always believed in telling the truth, so I just had to tell the truth. Also, in the beginning, it was just me standing alone, and what am I going to do about it? But now, Sean independently felt that this was very important, and he's joined me, and it's just great."
Several celebrity supporters who support the Artists Against Fracking initiative have close ties to Sean, Ono and Sarandon. The list includes Julian Lennon -- John's son from a previous marriage, Kyoko Chan Cox -- Ono's daughter from another relationship, former Beatles members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and Sarandon's ex-husband and actor Tim Robbins.
Check out the full list of celebrities who support the "Artists Against Fracking" initiative:Abena Koomson
Animal Liberation Orchestra
Black Twig Pickers
Charlotte Kemp Muhl
Eric "Roscoe" Ambel
G Tom Mac
Jay Dee Daugherty
Jonathan Marc Sherman
Kyoko Ono Cox
Medeski, Martin and Wood
My Morning Jacket
Nancy Shevell and Paul McCartney
Patti Smith Group
Roberto De Niro
Sara Lee Guthrie
Sean Ono Lennon
Sim Redmond Band
Stephanie and Warren Haynes
The Flaming Lips
Three As Four
Tommy Hawk Wilson III
Yo La Tengo