Fracking Opponents May Have Run Afoul of Lobbying Rules
The celebrity anti-hydraulic fracturing group, Artists Against Fracking, may be in legal trouble, according to Associated Press. The group has so far failed to register with the State of New York, despite laws requiring lobbyists groups spending over $5,000 to register.
“The group hasn't filed lobbying reports, so the amount it has spent and what it was spent on isn't known publicly. Experts in Albany say the website and public events appear to have cost well over $5,000,” AP reported on March 18.
The group is made up of celebrities including Sean Lennon, Yoko Ono, Mark Ruffalo, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman and Zooey Deschanel. They have campaigned specifically in New York state, holding a recent anti-fracking event in Albany.
According to AP, failing to register is not a criminal offence, but it can result in substantial fines. “The biggest penalty for failure to follow the lobbying law resulted in a $250,000 fine against Donald Trump and others over casinos in 2000, and the Philip Morris tobacco company was hit with a $75,000 fine in 1999.”
Artists against Fracking’s website lists 120 actors, musicians, and other celebrities who are against fracking. Lennon created the site, wrote a protest song specifically for an interview on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” and then launched Artists against Fracking at 9 p.m. the night of his interview.
Lennon launched Artists against Fracking to galvanize celebrities to support his cause. Other celebrities have also taken up the fight against fracking, including Matt Damon and John Krasinski who produced an anti-fracking movie, “Promised Land,” which failed to deliver at the box office. According to Boxofficemojo.com, the movie has earned just a bit above $7.5 million.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a method of getting natural gas from underground shale deposits. It has come under fire from left-wing environmentalists who argue that the process could cause problems including water pollution. However, they have little evidence to substantiate such claims.
Capturing gas and oil from shale can create new jobs and help the economy. In fact, Bloomberg Business reported that in towns that were planning to allow the process, but were stonewalled by regulators have been hurt economically.