Feds Continue Frack Attack on Ohio’s Wayne National Forest

By Tabitha Tripp
In September 21, 2017
On News
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COLUMBUS, Ohio— The Bureau of Land Management will auction 141 acres in the Wayne National Forest today for oil and gas development, its third lease auction since approving fracking in Ohio’s only national forest last December.

The fracking industry has so far nominated about 18,000 acres of the Wayne National Forest’s Marietta Unit to be auctioned for oil and gas leasing. The BLM plans to continue holding quarterly auctions until those lands are leased; it has leased 1,817 acres of the national forest to the fracking industry since December.

“Fracking has encroached on communities all over eastern Ohio. Now the few remaining public forests are under threat, along with wildlife and public health,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “These precious forests provide healthy watersheds, wildlife refuges and peaceful recreation. They should be entirely off limits from polluting wells, pipelines and heavy truck traffic.”   

The Rover pipeline route cuts through the northeast corner of the Marietta Unit, less than two miles from the lands offered for auction. Gas from fracked wells in the national forest could feed into the pipeline, whose construction has been plagued with numerous mishaps and spills, including a 2 million-gallon spill of drilling mud laced with diesel.

“We’ve seen problem after problem with the construction phase of the Rover pipeline, and it isn’t even in operation yet,” said Nathan Johnson of the Ohio Environmental Council. “The last thing we want to see is a pipeline spill or explosion in the Wayne, not to mention mile upon mile of holes punched through the Wayne’s forest cover.”

Earlier this year conservation groups sued the BLM and other federal agencies in U.S. District Court in Columbus for their failure to analyze threats 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 subsequent leasing to the fracking industry.  

“Wendell Berry says ‘There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.’ Will the Wayne National Forest be protected as sacred, or will it be sacrificed for short term gains of oil and gas industry and desecrated?” said Tabitha Tripp, spokesperson for Heartwood. “Rather than seeing the light and admitting the benefit of clean energy technologies, the government continues to auction off the forest, subjecting communities to brightly lit skies from fracking flares and the industrialization of the forest communities around them, resulting in the eminent destruction of sacred places.”

If fracking moves forward in the Wayne National Forest, spills of fracking and drilling fluid will threaten Ohio River tributaries, as well as people and endangered species downstream. Massive clear-cutting for new wells, pipelines roads and compressor stations will destroy and fragment forests. Fracking and its infrastructure will reverse decades of forest recovery, undermining the very purpose for which the Wayne National Forest was designated by Congress.

Conservation groups in August filed an administrative protest challenging the BLM’s decision to hold today’s auction because it failed to adequately analyze the impacts of fracking and pipelines on watersheds, forests and endangered species.

Download a copy of the August protest here.
Download a copy of the May lawsuit here.
Download a map of Wayne National Forest fracking plan and Rover pipeline route here.
Images of the Wayne National Forest are available for media use here.
Download a factsheet about Wayne National Forest fracking here.

Contacts: Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414, tmckinnon@biologicaldiversity.org

Nathan Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council, (614) 487-5841, NJohnson@theOEC.org

Tabitha Tripp, Heartwood, (812) 307-4326, info@heartwood.org

Jonathon Berman, Sierra Club, (202) 495-3033, jonathon.berman@sierraclub.org

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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