New York’s anti-fracking movement got a nod from folk and rock royalty on Saturday, with Neil Young, Pete Seeger and Dave Matthews all speaking out against the controversial technique at Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid fundraiser.
The yearly concert event was held at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center over the weekend, attracting a sold-out crowd of 25,000 to the highly touted venue on the grounds of Saratoga Spa State Park.
Matthews, who has made near-annual trips to SPAC with his band since the 1990s, was the first to broach the topic, acknowledging farmers who held anti-fracking signs in the front of the audience during a panel discussion that kicked off the event.
“Don’t frack New York. Don’t frack our farmlands,” Matthews said to applause. “And if you really need to frack something, why don’t you go frack yourself?”
At one point on stage, Young wore an orange t-shirt underneath his trademark red flannel. It “New York is meant to be frack free,” Seeger sang. (Seeger, you’ll recall, has made a couple appearances at the state Capitol to speak out against fracking. He lives in Beacon, Dutchess County.)
Farmers in New York appear to be somewhat split on hydrofracking in New York, which remains under a de facto moratorium first launched in 2008. While some have been outspoken against the technique used as part of the natural-gas extraction process, others are looking to lease their gas rights for production. The New York Farm Bureau has supported fracking over the past several years.
Here’s a YouTube video of Matthews’ remarks, posted Tuesday by an attendee:
(Hans Pennick / AP Photo)