Help Make History at Ohio's Largest Anti-Fracking Rally This Weekend
On June 11, Gov. John Kasich signed SB 315 into law, turning one of the worst fracking bills in America into the worst fracking laws.
On Sunday, June 17, Ohioans mobilize to show Gov. Kasich and his friends in the Statehouse that there will be consequences for choosing to frack Ohio. The largest mobilization against fracking in Ohio’s history will descend on Columbus and take over the Statehouse to pass peoples' legislation that will defend us from the gas industry.
We will show the depth and diversity of our movement this weekend. All of Ohio's major cities will be represented with big numbers, but so will parts of the state where the gas industry is strongest—places like Steubenville, Carrollton and Youngstown, where the impact of drilling is already deeply felt.
People from surrounding states are en route, too. Michigan, where the frackers are both drilling and dredging sand, is expected to show strong support. So is Pennsylvania, a state that is unfortunately vividly aware of how destructive fracking can be for communities.
Everyone who's coming has a story to share and something to contribute to the movement. We're hoping you will be there to listen and learn, but also to participate in an important turning point for the fracking movement in Ohio. If you or your friends haven't yet signed up, click here.
Here are some of the people who are coming:
- Bill McKibben of 350.org
- Josh Fox, director of Gasland
- Hundreds of people like you from all corners of Ohio, plus dozens of other states affected by fracking
- The gas industry (yes, they'll be there to counter-protest us)
We're planning for three days of strategy sessions and trainings from June 14-16 to learn from each other and work together to build a stronger movement. Trainings will be held at the Ohio Urban Arts Center, and a full agenda is available by clicking here.
Here's a bit of what's planned:
- A non-violent direct action training led by 350.org's trainers who helped make last year's Tar Sands Action a success
- Workshops in organizing for local control led by Ohio's strongest local organizers
- Updates and discussions about political strategy to outflank Gov. Kasich and the oil industry in Ohio
- Deeper trainings in media outreach, researching campaign contributions and the economics of fracking
- Art builds to make our march shine
These workshops are just a piece of the action—there are also bands and a dance party on Friday night, a panel with Bill McKibben and Josh Fox on Saturday night, and a Don't Frack Ohio contingent in Columbus' Pride Parade Saturday at 12 p.m.
That brings us to what's happening Sunday, June 17—the main event. If you can make it for only one day, try to make it Sunday.
At 11 a.m. we'll gather at Arch Park (McFerson Commons) in downtown Columbus. There, we'll rally and get fired up for our march to the Statehouse, where we will occupy the statehouse and send an unmistakable message to Gov. Kasich: Don't Frack Ohio
We'll hear from Josh Fox and Bill McKibben, as well as green business owners, landowners affected by the gas and coal industries, and grassroots activists leading this fight at the front lines. If you're a part of this movement, you'll either see friends there or make new ones. We'll be wrapped up by 2:30 p.m. or so.
It’s hard to overstate what’s at stake here. We used to think that natural gas might be a help in the fight against climate change–but new studies have demonstrated that so much heat-trapping methane leaks from fracking fields that it may be just as dirty as coal.
Ohio used to be one of the country’s leaders in renewable power–the solar and wind industries were sparking a manufacturing renaissance. But the 18-story gas-drilling rigs along the Ohio River are starting to make life hard for renewable energy: because they don’t have to pay for the environmental damage their drilling does, they can undercut everyone else’s price. “It’s kind of taken the wind out of wind,” one businessman explained.
We can’t let that happen—we can’t let Ohio turn into a pincushion, pricked with drill rigs and shaken by earthquakes. If we stay silent, special interests will win. If we speak out together, we have a chance.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
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The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.