The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
'Government Violating Own Laws to Pave Way for Fracking Plan' in Ohio's Only National Forest
The groups are challenging a new 1,147-acre March 2017 lease sale in Wayne National Forest and adding claims that the federal fracking plans violate the Endangered Species Act, threatening animals in the forest and downstream.
"Federal officials should not be putting corporate profits ahead of endangered species, safe drinking water and public health," Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity, said. "The government is violating its own laws to pave the way for this dangerous fracking plan, and we can't let that happen."
In May four conservation groups sued the federal agencies in U.S. District Court in Columbus for their failure to analyze impacts to public health, water, endangered species and the climate before opening 40,000 acres of the Wayne National Forest to fracking in 2016, and prior to leasing 670 acres of those lands to the oil industry in December.
The expanded lawsuit shows that fracking will threaten endangered mussels downstream from lease parcels, as well as endangered Indiana bats and threatened northern long-eared bats. The bats are already imperiled by forest fragmentation, white-nose syndrome and climate change. Habitat destruction, deadly wastewater pits and water contamination from fracking activities compound these threats.
"The Wayne National Forest is home to many species who can't afford to have their habitat damaged by oil and gas development," said Nathan Johnson, public lands director with the Ohio Environmental Council. "We need to do all we can to protect wildlife that can't protect themselves."
Fracking will industrialize Ohio's only national forest with roads, well pads and gas lines, the lawsuit asserts. In addition to destroying Indiana bat habitat, this infrastructure will pollute watersheds and water supplies that support millions of people, and endanger other federally protected species in the area.
"Fracking our national forest is the last spasm of crony capitalism on the eve of climate chaos," Tabitha Tripp, spokesperson for Heartwood. "Our job is to shepherd some intact habitat through to the other side in the hopes that, while diminished, it will survive and be a refuge for as many resilient species as possible."
In 2014 a well pad caught fire in Monroe County, resulting in the contamination of a creek near the national forest. Wastewater and fracking chemicals spilled into Opossum Creek—an Ohio River tributary—killing 70,000 fish over a five-mile stretch.
"Fracking in Wayne National Forest would be nothing short of disastrous for Ohio's only national forest and the wildlife that depends on it," said Sierra Club staff attorney Elly Benson. "The industrialization and destruction that fracking would bring is the type of activity the forest's protections are meant to safeguard against. The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management should do their job and protect this wild place, not green-light its destruction."
The Bureau of Land Management intends to lease 40,000 acres of the Wayne National Forest's Marietta Unit, setting up two-thirds of the unit to be auctioned off in upcoming quarterly Bureau of Land Management lease sales.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Return of a Relative: Tribal Communities in the Northern Great Plains Rally Around Bison Restoration
By Clay Bolt
On Oct. 11 people around the world celebrated the release of four plains bison onto a snow-covered butte in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
The climate crisis has put at least 945 designated toxic waste sites at severe risk of disaster from escalating wildfires, floods, rising seas and other climate-related disasters, according to a new study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the AP reported.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.
Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store, the company announced on Friday. The removal of the apps comes after thousands of people across the country have developed lung illnesses from vaping and 42 people have died.