Sean Lennon ripped fracking today in a New York Times op-ed, saying the process of extracting natural gas has been falsely portrayed as “clean.” “Natural gas has been sold as clean energy,” Lennon wrote. “But when the gas comes from fracturing bedrock with about five million gallons of toxic water per well, the word ‘clean’ takes on a disturbingly Orwellian tone. Don’t be fooled.”
Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, uses water and chemicals to free natural gas trapped in rock deposits below the surface of the earth. Lennon says there’s simply no way the process can be clean. “Fracking for shale gas is in truth dirty energy,” he writes. “It inevitably leaks toxic chemicals into the air and water. Industry studies show that 5 percent of wells can leak immediately, and 60 percent over 30 years. There is no such thing as pipes and concrete that won’t eventually break down. It releases a cocktail of chemicals from a menu of more than 600 toxic substances, climate-changing methane, radium and, of course, uranium.”
Lennon frets that fracking could contaminate reservoirs and harm the tap water supply of his hometown, New York City, and cause long-lasting damage to the climate of the planet. “Within the first 20 years, methane escaping from within and around the wells, pipelines and compressor stations is 105 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,” he writes. “With more than a tiny amount of methane leakage, this gas is as bad as coal is for the climate; and since over half the wells leak eventually, it is not a small amount. Even more important, shale gas contains one of the earth’s largest carbon reserves, many times more than our atmosphere can absorb. Burning more than a small fraction of it will render the climate unlivable, raise the price of food and make coastlines unstable for generations.”
In response, Lennon and his mother, Yoko Ono, are starting Artists Against Fracking, which they describe as “a new coalition of artists, musicians, filmmakers and public figures opposed to hydraulic fracking.” The group already includes Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, David Bryne, Lady Gaga, Wilco, MGMT, Bonnie Raitt, Alec Baldwin, Liv Tyler and more. For more information on Artists Against Fracking, visit the coalition’s website.