Groups Sue Feds to Halt Fracking in Ohio's Only National Forest
Conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Tuesday over plans to permit fracking in Ohio's only national forest, the Wayne National Forest. The lawsuit aims to void BLM leases and halt fracking in the national forest.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus, charges that the agencies failed to analyze threats to public health, endangered species and the climate before auctioning off more than 670 acres of forest land for large-scale, high-volume fracking.
"We're suing to stop this dangerous fracking plan because drinking water safety and public lands should come before corporate profits," said Taylor McKinnon at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Ohio and Little Muskingum rivers provide precious water to millions of people in Ohio and downstream states. Pollution from fracking would be disastrous for the people who depend on this water."
In the lawsuit, the conservation groups note that the agencies violated the National Environmental Policy Act by approving oil and gas leases without addressing risks to watersheds, public health, climate and endangered species, including Indiana bats.
Fracking will industrialize Ohio's only national forest with roads, well pads and gas lines, the lawsuit asserts. This infrastructure would destroy Indiana bat habitat, pollute watersheds and water supplies that support millions of people, and endanger other federally protected species in the area.
The lawsuit challenges a December 2016 BLM auction of more than 670 acres of public land in the Wayne National Forest's Marietta Unit in southeast Ohio, arguing that the agency relied on outdated plans in approving the leases.
Many of the parcels sold in the most recent lease auctions are near or along these rivers.
"We filed this lawsuit because the Wayne is an important natural resource for all Ohioans," said Nathan Johnson, public lands director for the Ohio Environmental Council. "We won't let the Wayne be trashed by pipelines and frack pads. The law is on our side, and this public forest is worth fighting for."
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.
"The Wayne National Forest is already so small and fragmented, but it's all Ohioans have left," said Tabitha Tripp with Heartwood. "We will fight like hell to protect it and the waters that run through it."
The groups have also filed an appeal with Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, challenging the most recent March 2017 lease sale. And they've filed two 60-day notices of intent to sue the agencies for violating the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act claims will be ready for litigation in June.
"There's no escaping the truth about what fracking will do to Wayne National Forest. Quite simply, it will destroy it," said Jen Miller, Ohio Sierra Club director. "Rather than permitting the destruction of our only national forest, we must continue to fuel the transition to clean, renewable energy which protects our wild places and creates jobs here in Ohio."
The BLM intends to lease 40,000 more acres of the Wayne National Forest's Marietta Unit, setting up two-thirds of the unit to be auctioned off in upcoming quarterly BLM lease sales.
By Brett Wilkins
One hundred seconds to midnight. That's how close humanity is to the apocalypse, and it's as close as the world has ever been, according to Wednesday's annual announcement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group that has been running its "Doomsday Clock" since the early years of the nuclear age in 1947.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
- Scientists Discover New Population of Endangered Blue Whales ... ›
- Endangered Blue Whales Make 'Unprecedented' Comeback to ... ›
- Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale Calves Spotted Off Coast ... ›
- Only 366 Endangered Right Whales Are Alive: New NOAA Report ... ›
By Yoram Vodovotz and Michael Parkinson
The majority of Americans are stressed, sleep-deprived and overweight and suffer from largely preventable lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Being overweight or obese contributes to the 50% of adults who suffer high blood pressure, 10% with diabetes and additional 35% with pre-diabetes. And the costs are unaffordable and growing. About 90% of the nearly $4 trillion Americans spend annually for health care in the U.S. is for chronic diseases and mental health conditions. But there are new lifestyle "medicines" that are free that doctors could be prescribing for all their patients.
Taking an unconventional approach to conduct the largest-ever poll on climate change, the United Nations' Development Program and the University of Oxford surveyed 1.2 million people across 50 countries from October to December of 2020 through ads distributed in mobile gaming apps.
- Guardian/Vice Poll Finds Most 2020 Voters Favor Climate Action ... ›
- Climate Change Seen as Top Threat in Global Survey - EcoWatch ›
- The U.S. Has More Climate Deniers Than Any Other Wealthy Nation ... ›
By Tara Lohan
Fall used to be the time when millions of monarch butterflies in North America would journey upwards of 2,000 miles to warmer winter habitat.
A monarch butterfly caterpillar feeds on common milkweed on Poplar Island in Maryland. Photo: Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program, (CC BY-NC 2.0)