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Last updated: February 20. 2013 12:40AM - 395 Views

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Area artist Mark Ciocca doesn't want fracking to do to Pennsylvania what coal mining did. The industry that was an economic boon also left the land permanently scarred.


So he has taken on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, with linocut block prints he has shared them with various organizations.


Even though no drilling for natural gas is taking place in Luzerne County, the county is feeling drilling side effects, such as pipelines, compressor stations and increased truck traffic. That has spurred opposition, including among those in the arts-and-entertainment community.


I'm not saying I'm 100 percent against (gas drilling), because we need resources, but I want to bring caution to the short- and long-term effects on our people and our communities, Ciocca said.


As a visual artist, I believe I have a responsibility to my environment and my community.


As part of his efforts to express his opinion, Ciocca, who lives in Taylor, has made prints for Luzerne County's Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition.


Video producer Scott Cannon of Plymouth, a coalition member, plans to enter a 30-second TV ad he produced into a contest sponsored by Artists Against Fracking, a New York state group formed by Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon.


The winner gets their commercial aired in New York City and Albany, Cannon said. I'm hoping to get some national exposure from this.


The ad will be directed at the public and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has delayed until February a decision on whether to allow fracking for natural gas in the state.


Other local artists, such as musician Mike Miz Mizwinski, have expressed their opposition to fracking as well, whether by taking the stage – or refusing to take it.


Mizwinski refused to perform at the 2011 RiverFest because natural-gas drilling companies Chesapeake Energy and Williams Energy were among the event's more than 40 corporate sponsors.


But Steve Forde, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the film Promised Land is a work of fiction and not reflective of the gas drilling industry's aggressive and effective regulatory framework.


Our focus remains on creating even more American jobs, safely producing our abundant, clean-burning, domestic natural-gas resources, revitalizing rural communities and our nation's manufacturing base, and most importantly, doing it in a way that is safe, he said. We live and raise our families in these communities, and have an unmatched commitment to protecting our air, water and environment.


John Augustine, community outreach coordinator for the coalition in Northeastern Pennsylvania, said the group is taking out ads in theaters across the state, encouraging people to look at the facts and not just the fiction of a movie. The ads refer people to a website: www.learnaboutshale.org/.


But Cannon said the reasons for the opposition are several. He said for one, former Vice President Dick Cheney and President George Bush basically exempted fracking from the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, meaning the natural-gas drilling industry did not have to disclose chemicals used in fracking.


It would be a lot safer if it had to follow the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, Cannon said.


Cannon is not just concerned about fracking but about the safety of the overall drilling process, including pipelines, compressor stations, truck traffic, spills and faulty well casings.


It's what causes methane to go into people's water wells, he said. The industry will say methane has always been in the water. It has but not to the explosive level it is. Drilling is responsible for methane migration.


Cannon said more information about gas drilling will continue to flow, especially through social media, which he said is the biggest conveyor of information about the issue.


The more people talk about it, the more the truth will come out.


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