Athens County Commissioners will host public hearing on Wayne/BLM frack plans

Since Wayne National Forest Supervisor Tony Scardina has stated that he will not hold a public hearing in Athens County, Athens County Commissioners have agreed to host a public hearing on Wayne National Forest and BLM plans to frack the Forest.

WHEN:  Tuesday evening, June 28, 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Athens Community Center
WHAT: Public Hearing

Hosted by Athens County Commissioners, t
he hearing will allow members of the public to sign up to give an oral presentation, 2 minutes, max. Longer written  comments will also be accepted. If you can’t attend, you can send comments (use subject line: Wayne comments) to the Commissioners at jsikorski@athensoh.org.
Wayne National Forest Supervisor Tony Scardina has been invited to attend. Comments will be submitted to the BLM and Wayne to be entered into the public administrative record.
Please tell Tony Scardina: DO THE RIGHT THING. NO CONSENT! 
 
Important information for those wishing to speak or to contact Mr. Scardina directly (
phone 740-753-0880 or e-mail
ascardina@fs.fed.us): In spite of his claims to the contrary, Mr. Scardina has the authority and the responsibility to WITHHOLD CONSENT to the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) to auction off Wayne land for oil and gas leasing. Given the highly significant impacts of opening the Wayne to fracking and the extremely inadequate, highly flawed Environmental Assessment just conducted, Mr. Scardina must withhold consent.

Fracking the Wayne has NOT been thoroughly studied as federal law requires. Please speak to your concerns about fracking in our region (climate, waste production, water use, air pollution, economic impacts, etc. etc.) and tell Tony Scardina not to shirk his clear legal and ethical responsibility to say NO to the BLM and to fracking.

Like Anne Carey before him (the Wayne Supervisor in 2011 when local opposition resulted in Ms. Carey withdrawing Wayne consent for the BLM lease sale scheduled for December that year), Mr. Scardina’s sign-off is required for Forest Service consent. Like Anne Carey before him, he also has the power to refuse and block consent. He then can either authorize a full SEIS (supplemental Environmental Impact Statement) or wait until the next Forest Plan is conducted and do a thorough analysis of fracking within that process. Either way, he MUST wait until fracking has been fully evaluated with complete up-to-date research data and full public input , as required by NEPA, before considering fracking anywhere on the Wayne.

Please tell Tony Scardina: DO THE RIGHT THING. NO CONSENT! 

See previous posts and ACFAN’s Wayne page for background information.

 

 

Activists to feds: extend comment period and hold public hearing on fracking the Wayne

Organized by Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN), representatives of eight grassroots environmental groups held press conferences on Wednesday, first at Wayne National Forest Headquarters and later in downtown Marietta. Speakers from Torch Can Do, Buckeye Forest Council, Ohio Sierra Club, Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Green Sanctuary of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta, Wayne Oil and Gas Organizing Group, and ACFAN called for an extension of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) comment period and a public hearing on BLM/Wayne plans to open the Wayne to deep-shale, high pressure horizontal drilling and fracturing (“fracking”).

Heather Cantino of ACFAN stated, “The BLM as a federal agency is charged with involving the public in such an important decision as opening our Forest to fracking. Fracking was not in the 2006 Wayne National Forest Plan so must be fully evaluated with full public input, according to federal law. I’ve spent 8 hours trying to decipher the BLM’s so-called Environmental Assessment (EA) and so far find it to be gobbledegook.” She cited a couple of examples: “They cite an unpublished Masters’ thesis (Fletcher 2012, funded by BP) that says ‘small spills are more common than big spills’ and then (mis)use this meaningless statement to say that they don’t need to consider the risk of spills! Water contamination from drilling with toxic chemicals, as Ohio allows, through unmapped aquifers? Well failure? Waste injection? Truck accidents? Blow-outs? Not considered. It will take me many more hours to figure out if there’s any science in this document. So far I can’t find any.”

Cantino added, “We also can’t expect everyone to read these confusing documents and make sense of them by themselves. We need a public hearing so that the public can share its extensive knowledge of the issues and our various attempts at understanding these confusing and consequential documents –– with one another, with our community, and with federal officials. We must then have time to write meaningful comments.” She concluded, “Tony Scardina, it is up to you to support our request for an extension and a public hearing so that you can do due diligence in evaluating this highly significant action being proposed for our Forest under your watch!”

Loraine McCosker, co-chair of the Forests and Public Lands Committee of the Ohio Sierra Club and member of Appalachian Ohio Sierra Club, said, “Let us be very clear to the USFS and the BLM. We are facing climate disruption, and this proposed leasing of the Marietta unit of the Wayne will exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions. To say it will not is not based on science and discredits the Wayne administration as well as the BLM.”

McCosker also addressed fracking’s production and disposal of large quantities of toxic, radioactive waste. “This waste is regulated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in Ohio and not the USEPA as many other states. As a result, this has created a dumping ground in Ohio. In 2015 the state received almost 29 million barrels or over 1.2 BILLION gallons. Athens county received over 4 million barrels, (almost 169 million gallons) while Washington county received 2.2 million barrels (almost 93.6 million gallons, and adjacent Muskingum county 2.8 million barrels or almost 119 million gallons. Fracking in the Wayne will increase this waste and the probability of water contamination and earthquakes, increase truck traffic and further impact communities adjacent to these wells who have no input into whether they would like this well in their community.”

Loran Conley, member of Torch Can Do! and resident of the Coolville area, which contains both the Atha and K&H injection well facilities, where K&H brings in more out-of-state waste than any other in Ohio, stated:

“I already personally experience the highly significant impacts caused by fracking and its waste. Having no access to a public water supply, I have already spent $1,000 in the past 2 years, having my 3 private water wells tested for contaminants- although we don’t even know what to look for. There are also:

  • air emissions of highly toxic chemicals into my community 24 hours a day,
  • truck traffic with loads carrying highly toxic, radioactive waste,
  • truck accidents and spills of this waste happening throughout our state and region regularly,
  • the likelihood of my drinking water being or becoming contaminated from these spills and the millions of gallons continually being pumped under my community at high pressures and being forced to go who knows where underground,
  • and the economic and emotional costs to me and my community from all this poisoning of our uncharted aquifers.”

Conley concluded, “Since the FONSI, the ‘Finding of No Significance,’ was supposedly based on this EA, the EA is clearly way off base or maybe entirely worthless. We know – I know ­– there are significant impacts. The BLM has clearly not evaluated them or they could not propose a FONSI.”

Also speaking were Rebecca Phillips and Bill Ambrose of MOVCA, Andrew Clovis of OHVEC, Bern Township Trustee Roxanne Groff and Andrea Reik, both of ACFAN, and Caitlyn McDaniel of Buckeye Forest Council. All discussed the “highly significant risks of fracking,” the lack of protection by the state and federal government of current oil and gas activities, the obvious inadequacies and illegality of documents that do not acknowledge, let alone assess, these risks, and the need for adequate public input.

Phillips stated, The Environmental Assessment itself notes “contribution to global climate change” as a possible long-term effect of fracking in the Wayne. A recent report from Department of the Interior and the General Accounting Office (blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2016/january/nr_01_22_2016.html) noted that stronger rules for methane releases were needed, as the Bureau of Land Management’s current guidelines were “inadequate.” On May 12, EPA issued a proposed new methane emissions rules. Given EPA’s just-released proposal and the inadequacy of BLM’s current guidelines, leasing drilling permits in the Wayne National Forest are a bad idea.”

Clovis concluded his impassioned plea to protect the Forest by saying, “I would rather hear the whip-or-will call from its home in a National Forest, than hear the sounds of hydro-fracking. I imagine most tourists to our local National Forests feel the same way. Approximately 650 billion dollars are generated and funneled into local economies by our National Forests. Thus this questionable gamble for money may end up costing a fortune in lost tourism revenue, and costing an untold, irreplaceable, and sustainable prosperity in lost biodiversity and climate devastation.

Groff stated, “We must all insist on an extension of the public comment period and a public hearing, which the BLM is allowed to grant as their responsibility to all citizens for the most robust public involvement, and which is required by federal law for major federal actions that may significantly affect the forest and human environment. To say that fracking our Forest will not have significant impacts is preposterous.” Groff then held up a horse manure to demonstrate what she really thinks of the BLM documents and their conclusions.

Andrea Reik summed up the issues and concluded, “We the public are entitled to a public hearing to clearly raise issues, present recent research, dispel the myths of fracking’s economic benefits to communities and describe the environmental, social, economic and health costs of fracking to our communities. In a world facing significant effects of climate change, a world where almost 200 world leaders, including President Obama, have made a commitment to reduce methane emissions, consideration by the BLM and Forest Service of opening our Forest to fracking is outdated and unbelievable. It is up to the citizens to say NO! and to demand our rights and concerns be heard.”

URGENT: PLEASE WRITE THE BLM AND REQUEST AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO COMMENT ON PLANS TO FRACK THE WAYNE NATIONAL FOREST, AND PLEASE REQUEST A PUBLIC HEARING!

The Bureau of Land Management has published an “Environmental Assessment” and a FONSI (“Finding of No Significant Impact” [!!]) on its plans to lease tens of thousands of acres of Wayne land for fracking. Although the BLM claims that there won’t be surface disturbance on Wayne land, this cannot be guaranteed. Furthermore, fracking near the Wayne in order to get at oil and gas owned by the federal government under the Wayne will contribute significantly to climate change, threaten drinking water supplies, industrialize the landscape, and cause air emissions and other significant environmental, public health, and socio-economic impacts to the region. By federal law, these impacts must be assessed with public input, and yet the BLM claims there will not be significant impacts and is providing only ~30 days for comments on the 100+ page document. The comment period was scheduled to close on May 29 – Memorial Day weekend (sound familiar – like ODNR having a comment period over the December holidays??), which has recently been corrected by BLM to end May 31, the first business day after the holiday. Their assessment and this short comment period are clearly inadequate and illegal, since they do not provide for meaningful public input as required by NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act)!

Please write the BLM and cc Wayne NF Supervisor Tony Scardina and Regional USFS Supervisor Kathleen Atkinson and request an extension of time to comment on their plans to frack the Wayne. And please request a public hearing! Sample letter below! They are starting with the Marietta unit to defuse Athens County objections, but opening ANY of the Wayne to fracking is illegal, dangerous, and opens the door to fracking everywhere on the Wayne.

The EA and other documents are at https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/lup/lup_register.do Search under NEPA project # DOI-BLM-Eastern States-0030-2016-0002-EAPlease include this project # in your comments and e-mail to blm_es_comments@blm.gov, cc: ascardina@fs.fed.us and katkinson@fs.fed.us or fax to (414) 297-4409, attn: Kurt Wadzinski. (NOTE: Comments, including personal information, may be made public. While you can ask the BLM to withhold identifying information, the BLM claims it cannot guarantee confidentiality. “Submissions from organizations, businesses, and individuals identifying themselves as representatives of organizations or businesses will be available for public review.”)

Sample letter: Dear Mr. Wadzinski, Forest Supervisor Scardina and Regional Forester Atkinson:

I request an extension of the public comment period for at least 60 more days beyond May 29 2016. It took the BLM 3 months to prepare this document and because it is 113 pages it will take the average citizen at least 90 days to review and respond accordingly. The BLM also must have a public hearing because the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 as amended requires federal agencies to analyze their actions in a decision-making process open to public review and where responsible officials take a “hard look” at and disclose the potential environmental effects of their actions. Your FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impacts) claims that there are NO environmental impacts that can be determined at this time. We, the citizens, must have the opportunity to state for the record our immediate and future concerns about this EA draft. It will be in the best interest of all parties involved in this proposed action for the BLM to use every tool and opportunity to involve the public to the greatest extent, for however long it takes. You have the discretionary power to do this. It would be an abuse of that power not to do so.

I will have more comments on the EA when I have reviewed it. This will undoubtedly take more than 20 more days to do a thorough review, which you certainly would want a citizen to do for you to comply with NEPA in your leasing decision.

If you want to submit some comments on any of the EA that you can manage to wade through and comprehend (good luck!) by May 31, please preface your comments with a statement such as:

THIS IS AN INCOMPLETE ASSESSMENT OF THIS EA. I NEED MORE TIME TO DO AN ADEQUATE REVIEW OF THIS EXTREMELY CONFUSING AND SEEMINGLY NONSENSICAL DOCUMENT, WHICH DOES NOT SEEM TO BE AN UP-TO-DATE SCIENTIFICALLY GROUNDED ASSESSMENT OF ANY OF THE SIGNIFICANT IMPACTS THAT ARE HIGHLY LIKELY FROM FRACKING UNDER AND NEAR THE WAYNE.

 

U.S. Coast Guard retreats from rulemaking on frackwaste barging

On February 22, front line community groups throughout the Ohio River basin received notification that the U.S. Coast Guard has determined that no new rules are needed to barge shipments of toxic, radioactive hydraulic fracturing waste. The Coast Guard instead decided to proceed using 40-year-old regulations that fail to address unconventional oil field waste from hydraulic fracturing. Fracking wastes contain such toxic chemicals as benzene and are laced with radioactive materials like water soluble radium-226, which is linked to leukemia and bone cancers. The Coast Guard will instead allow shipment of waste fluids from hydraulic fracturing to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

The proposal being considered by the Coast Guard would have required new rules and guidelines to transport highly flammable, explosive hazardous waste on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to currently undisclosed locations.

Terry Lodge, a Toledo attorney for the Fresh Water Accountability Project, was blunt, “This is disastrous. The Coast Guard proposes to regulate shipment by shipment, and they will do no such thing. They have very limited scientific staff, the lab testing of cargoes will not become Coast Guard records (if they do testing at all), and the information will remain the proprietary property of the shipper. The Coast Guard backed down and accepted an alternate means of classifying the shipments based on an oil and gas waste cargo definition that was implemented decades before horizontal hydraulic fracking was invented.”

Read  joint press release by Buckeye Forest Council, Fresh Water Accountability Project, and OVEC: more…

And U.S. Coast Guard announcement in Federal Register, 2-23-16 

Send comments to the Wayne and BLM: No Sacrifice Zone! No fracking anywhere in our state’s only National Forest!

Wild Earth Guardians have submitted a powerful petition calling on BLM to do a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement assessing climate and non-climate impacts (costs and benefits) of its oil and gas leasing program. Great work! Check it out for important legal arguments on cumulative climate- and non-climate impacts of o&g leasing, which must be considered but cannot be considered at the Unit or parcel levels. The FS must do a Forest-wide EIS to assess such impacts on SE Ohio and the Wayne! 1-16

Please send comments to the Wayne National Forest (WNF) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to oppose leasing any Wayne land for fracking. Comments on plans for the Marietta Unit were due 1-22-16. But, although that comment period is technically closed, we have been told that late comments will be accepted, and since the comment period was for the Marietta Unit and the other units have not had formal comment periods, feel free to keep those comments coming in!

Write: blm_es_comments@blm.gov. Please cc Tony Scardina, National Forest Supervisor, ascardina@fs.fed.us (Wayne NF 13700 US Highway 33, Nelsonville OH 45764).  Include RE: DOI-BLM-Eastern States-0030-2016-0002-EA. Note that comments will be public.  A few key issues:

  • The Marietta Unit must not be a sacrifice zone! Please object to the Wayne illegally opening up our Forest to fracking, with its vast consumption of water and production of toxic, radioactive waste, air pollution, industrialization of our region, and significant exacerbation of climate change.
  • The BLM and WNF have no business considering fracking the Wayne until the Wayne evaluates potential impacts at the forest-wide level. Doing this legally obligatory research will make it abundantly clear that fracking will have significant negative impacts on our community’s air, water, and local economies as well as on the climate and therefore must be rejected. District-wide or site-by-site assessments cannot evaluate these cumulative impacts, which under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) must be evaluated in a Forest-wide Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) due to their significance, scale, and intensity.
  • In order for the BLM to consider leasing mineral rights under the Wayne, federal law requires that the Forest Service (FS) first consent. We demand that the FS withhold consent because the FS can take action on proposals with significant potential impacts (on the Forest and human community surrounding the Forest) only if the action is in accord with the Forest’s Plan. Fracking was not evaluated in the most recent Wayne Forest Plan, done in 2006.
  • The Wayne’s inadequate 2012 Supplemental Information Report (SIR), undertaken after community opposition got the 2011 lease sale canceled, is not a NEPA-based evaluation and cannot legally substitute for one. The FS must undertake a full NEPA-based environmental review of fracking on our forest, our community, its economy, and the climate before considering consent. This review must consider all the new information from peer-reviewed studies, the EPA fracking study (not the misleading statements about its conclusions), NY’s evaluation that led to its statewide ban, and incident reports of explosions, fires, and toxic radioactive releases that have occurred at frack sites and frackwaste operations in Ohio and elsewhere, contaminating air and water and threatening drinking water supplies. (Note especially the weeklong fire of chemicals and waste at a Monroe County frack pad and the Kleese injection well release that killed an entire pond ecosystem in Vienna Ohio.)

No Wayne District is okay to frack. No compromise, no sacrifice zones, no Consent!  More extensive talking points here and sample comments here. And another here: Groff BLM Public Comment Letter re Wayne, complete with relevant photos. 

And note Washington Post on the SOTU:

In the coming days, the White House is expected to announce a proposed regulation to limit emissions of greenhouse gases from oil and gas operations on federal land.

Obama suggested that the world had moved beyond the debate over climate change, despite a large caucus of skeptics in Congress.

“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it,” he said. “You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”

The Waynette carolers’ debut

Carolers sing to Wayne National Forest: “Oh, Give Us a Ban on Drilling…and Do it Right Now!”

Protests start to ring, Making spirits sing)

Nelsonville, OH, Dec. 21, 2015 –– With signs reading, No Consent!, Ho Ho Ho…We say NO!, Do the research!, We want NEPA for Christmas!, and Tis the season..,There’s a reason to keep it in the ground, a group of festively dressed carolers visited the Wayne National Forest Headquarters on Monday. Dubbing themselves the Waynettes, they sang several carols, including Jingle Bells with the words, “Protests start to ring, Making spirits sing, Oh what fun it is to be In a forest fracking free.” In their “We Wish You a Frack-free Christmas” they sang, “Oh give us a ban on drilling, and do it right now!” concluding the song with “We won’t stop until we get one, Our earth is too dear!” Giving credit to another fractivist group, Marcellus Protest, they sang Fracking Wonderland, lamenting, “Gone away is the bluebird, they’re all dead, ain’t no new birds. The pipes that they laid sent the wildlife away, living in a fracked up wonderland.” The carolers left a letter with the receptionist to deliver to Wayne Forest Supervisor, in which they noted the thousands of petition signatures and letters delivered to the Wayne over the past four years calling for an environmental impact study as required by federal law before the Wayne even consider leasing any land for fracking.

Waynette debut

The carolers’ message to Mr. Scardina states in part, “In order for the Bureau of Land Management to proceed with any lease sales of mineral rights under our National Forest, federal law requires that the Forest Service (FS) first formally consent. If the FS does not consent, the proposal is dead. For the reasons below among others, we demand that the FS withhold consent.

  • Fracking was not considered in the 2006 Wayne National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Plan). The Wayne’s inadequate 2012 Supplemental Information Report, undertaken after community opposition got the 2011 lease sale canceled, violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by not including public input. The FS must undertake a full NEPA-based environmental review of the impacts of fracking on our forest, community, and climate before considering consent. This review must take into account all the new information – from peer-reviewed studies, the EPA fracking study, NY’s evaluation of fracking, and incident reports of the explosions, fires, and toxic, radioactive releases that have occurred at frack sites and frackwaste operations in Ohio and elsewhere, contaminating air and water and threatening drinking water supplies.
  • Doing this research will make it abundantly clear that fracking will have significant negative impacts on our community’s air, water, and local economies as well as on the climate and must be rejected for these reasons.
  • Climate change is a crisis with no equal. It demands immediate and decisive action. We support legislation recently introduced into the U.S. Congress that would ban the development of all publicly owned fossil fuels, such as those underneath Wayne National Forest. #keepitintheground
  • Our community has said loudly and clearly, over and over, “We say NO! Do the research. No consent!”

Athens News coverage hereBackground information here, the carols and more at acfan.org/wayne-supporting-docs.

 

Second Atha well permit application filed

Comments due Nov. 30, 2015.  Tell ODNR enough is enough!

Here’s the ridiculous permit application.

Will this document ensure protection of our groundwater and drinking water? Of course not!

Will it ensure there won’t be spills and leaks into the Hocking River? Of course not!

Will it ensure there won’t be non-stop air emissions of toxic volatile organic compounds? Of course not!

The Division of Oil and Gas doesn’t care about your health. Tell them what you think of their management of our drinking water supplies, which they are legally obligated to protect!

See acfan’s injection well factsheet and injection well page for more.

Key points: A “well” is not a container. It is a hole in the ground. ODNR does no geologic evaluation to ensure that what is pushed down won’t come back up through fissures, old wells, or new fractures from increasing earth movement throughout the continental plate.

Write: oilandgas@dnr.state.oh.us

RE: PERMIT # APATTO27661

CC: Ms. Susan Hedman, Regional Administrator, USEPA Region 5 hedman.susan@epa.gov, State Senator Lou Gentile: gentile@ohiosenate.gov, State Rep. Debbie Phillips Rep94@ohiohouse.gov, Athens County Commissioner Lenny Eliason leliason@athensoh.org

Sample letter:

Dear Chief Simmers:

I write in strong opposition to the proposed Athens County injection well Atha #2, #APATTO27661, which is likely to cause long-term harm to our community’s air, water, public health, and property values and is a safety concern, not only because there will be constant air emissions and because there is no reason to think that the waste won’t find a way to the surface but also because the site lies along the Hocking River and on a windy, hilly road.

I list here just a few of the many concerns that I share with many in our community who are not able to respond within your very short comment period, timed once again during family holidays:

  1. This is a highly deficient application that will not prevent pollution of land, surface water, and drinking water sources as required by Ohio law (OAC 1501:9-3-04). There is no geologic data presented to protect water supplies—drinking water, groundwater, and underground water sources—or public health, safety and environmental conservation. There is not even a map provided in the application!
  2. The Chief unlawfully and unreasonably approved the permit for the first Atha Frost well in a manner that does not protect underground sources of drinking water in violation of federal and state requirements governing the injection of oil and gas waste liquids.
  3. There is no reference as to nearby aquifers as USEPA requires, thus showing the inadequacy and therefore illegality of Ohio’s injection well program.
  4. There is no provision in the application or ODNR regulation that can assure the public that surface water contamination, including major truck or equipment spills into the Hocking River, can be prevented. ODNR is charged with these environmental, safety and health protections by state and federal law.
  5. Aquifers of the region are not mapped and so are not taken into account in the siting and plans for this well, in violation of Safe Drinking Water Act and USEPA standards, thus showing the illegal inadequacy of ODNR’s injection well program.
  6. The Atha site is so close to the Hocking River that any spill, such as the recent spill at the nearby K&H site from K&H#1 in which 15 tons of contaminated soil was removed downhill from the well site, would potentially pollute drinking water supplies for millions of downstream Hocking and Ohio River water consumers. The Sept. 2015 K&H #1 spill reports also give no indication that the removal of the 15 tons of contaminated soil resulted in adequate remediation of the site. ODNR has no remediation or enforcement standards. Was this removal merely surface scraping? What tests determined that the removal was adequate to prevent contamination of surface and drinking water supplies near K&H #1? What was done with the contaminated soil and what assurance does the public have that the contaminated soil, if dumped in a sanitary landfill, will not continue to pollute our region’s surface and ground water and drinking water supplies? How would permitting of the Atha well insure that such a spill, potentially resulting in contamination of drinking water supplies for millions of downstream water customers, could be prevented? It was not prevented at K&H #1. How would the Atha #2 well be any more likely not to have spills?
  7. The June 2014 weeklong Eisenbarth fire in Munroe County Ohio, which resulted in the death of over 70,000 fish and countless other unnamed species and contamination of a tributary of the Ohio River upstream of drinking water intakes, is an example of what can and has happened in Ohio when frackwaste tanks explode and burn. This application for the Atha #2 well, relying on similar tanks filled with explosive hydrocarbon mixtures and located only hundreds of feet of the Hocking River, cannot give us any assurance that such a catastrophe will not happen in our county and along our Hocking River, upstream of millions of Ohio River water customers.
  8. The Atha #1 injection disposal well at the same facility has shown in multiple incident reports that well integrity has been breached numerous times, indicating that another well operated by Mr. Atha at the site may likely result in adverse effects on human health and contamination to ground water, prohibited by R.C. Chapter 1509 and the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
  9. ODNR does no monitoring of drinking or ground water around its injection wells, including the current Atha well, so neighbors will not know when contaminants find a pathway to groundwater from Mr. Atha’s wells. There is no assurance that the Atha #1 has not already contaminated local drinking water sources and the Hocking River.
  10. Studies of oil and gas waste emissions confirm that benzene and other known human carcinogens are present, often at extremely high and often illegal levels. ODNR does no air monitoring around its injection wells, so neighbors will not know what chemicals they are being subjected to in the air they breathe. The current facility with its multiple storage tanks continually vents toxic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds directly into the riverine community, leading to chronic exposure of chemical combinations for anyone living along the river.

I request a public hearing in Athens County based on my substantive concerns with the serious deficiencies of this permit application to prevent contamination and pollution of surface of the land, surface water and groundwater, as required by Ohio Administrative Code 1501:9-3-04, which states: (A) All persons engaged in any phase of saltwater disposal operations shall conduct such operations in a manner which [sic] will not contaminate or pollute the surface of the land, or water on the surface or in the subsurface…” My concerns, substantive and relevant to public health, safety, and environmental conservation, merit a public hearing because Ohio law requires that the Chief grant a public hearing if ANY comments are substantive and relevant to health, safety, or good conservation practices. (OAC 1501:9-3-06 (H)(2) (c)). There is no stipulation that can be added to such a deficient application, governed as it is by an illegally deficiently protective regulatory system, that can effectively address these substantive and regulatory concerns. This application should be withdrawn.

Sincerely,

Address:

 

 

Grassroots Organizations Denounce Plans to Frack Ohio’s National Forest

Athens, OH Nov. 13, 2015 –– Opponents of a federal government proposal to lease some 31,000 acres of the Wayne National Forest for fracking today challenged the proposal’s legitimacy in a letter demanding a full-scale environmental report be compiled and put before the public before any decision to take bids from drilling firms. Activists from the Buckeye Forest Council, Athens County Fracking Action Network, Heartwood, Freshwater Accountability Project, Appalachian Ohio Group of the Sierra Club, and Center for Health, Environment, and Justice called previous studies by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service “poorly conceived” and “shallow” and cited many harms from fracking that have never been admitted by the agencies.

The groups said a 2012 internal review by the BLM which authorized leasing to begin, called a Supplemental Information Report, directly violated federal environmental law because it was written in secret, excluded any public participation, and broke a written promise from 2006 that environmental effects would be studied before leasing would occur.

The BLM and FS are co-sponsoring a series of public meetings in Marietta, Athens and Ironton this week to justify a decision to promote high-volume horizontal fracking for oil and gas in the national forest. A Forest Service spokesperson characterized the meetings as “sort of scoping” – something the activists seized upon as indicative that the decision to frack is already made.  The unconsidered health and environmental threats, they say, include huge clearcuts to build access roads and drilling pads, untended liquid drilling waste holding ponds that will poison wildlife, widespread air pollution from the fracking chemicals, methane leakage, and an average 1,800 truckloads hauling equipment and chemicals to, or taking wastes from, each well. They also criticized the agencies for not considering the enormous waste stream produced by fracking, replete with health-compromising radioactivity in the form of Radium-226 and Thorium.

“It took 350 million years for radium and its daughter elements to become isolated from the surface of the Earth so that our carbon-based life forms could even develop,” said Terry Lodge, an attorney working with the opponents. “The worst threat oil and gas workers and the public have never heard of from fracking is that nearly 100% of the wastes are radioactive, that radium is very water-soluble, is misidentified by the body as calcium and readily incorporated into bone tissue, and that it kills. Madame Curie and her staff were wiped out by Radium-226. If this leasing goes through, thousands of additional tons per year will be dumped in Ohio’s sanitary landfills, which are not prepared to handle these radioactive waste.”

The 2012 “reconsideration” was the result of widespread community protest in 2011 that resulted in cancellation of a December 2011 lease sale of Wayne subsurface rights. The 2011 protest was initiated by a Buckeye Forest Council community alert and the organization’s formal comments to the BLM, which guided further comments by dozens of citizens and local officials and water protection entities. OU’s President Roderick McDavis, Mayor Paul Wiehl, Athens City Council, Burr Oak Water District, and Athens Conservancy were among those submitting formal protests to the BLM. Documents from this effort are available at acfan.org/wayne-supporting-docs/.

“What don’t these agencies understand about the word NO?” asked Roxanne Groff, Bern Township trustee, former Athens County commissioner and a leader in the 2012 community efforts. “Our community has been loud and clear: we don’t want fracking in our public forest. These agencies must comply with NEPA and do the research, which will make it abundantly clear that fracking will have significant negative impacts on our community’s air, water, and local economies.”

Joe Hazelbaker, newly appointed BFC interim executive director and a co-signatory of the letter to the Bureau of Land Management and  US Forest Service , summed up the organization’s position, stating, “The Forest Service and BLM are treating the leasing of 31,000 acres as a cursory process with a foregone conclusion while casting the public as merely their audience. The law requires otherwise and we will work together to do whatever we can to prevent these agencies from spoiling the Wayne.”

 

 

Wayne and BLM revisiting oil and gas leasing

Keep an eye on ACFAN’s facebook and website for more information to come soon about community action to protest this dangerous and illegal development!

MEANWHILE, please read this important Buckeye Forest Council action alert:

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, the U.S. Forest Service (FS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced plans to consider leasing over 31,000 acres of public mineral rights underneath Ohio’s Wayne National Forest to private oil & gas companies.
In their Public Notice riddled with errors (including wrong day, bad webpage link, and inconsistent acreage numbers), the FS/BLM announced that they would hold “Scoping Meetings” to provide information on the Proposal and solicit “feedback” from interested parties.  However, no project details were provided in the Notice or otherwise made available.
In addition, the Notice also states that the FS/BLM has already pre- decided to conduct piece-meal Environmental Assessments by district before receiving public “feedback” and despite the enormous footprint and potential impacts of this forest-wide proposal.
The FS/BLM are clearly indicating that they have already made the determination to categorically exclude the Proposal from full National Environmental Policy Act scrutiny in an effort to fast-tract the handover of public rights for private exploitation at the expense of forest ecosystems.
As has become their tactic, the Proposal is being lobbed at the beginning of the family holiday season and provides barely two-weeks notice prior to the first meeting.  The dates and locations of the known meetings are as follows:
Tuesday, November 17: Marietta,
Ohio. Marietta College, Andrews Hall Great Room 203, 215 Fifth Street: 6:30-8:30 PM.
Wednesday, November 18: Athens, Ohio.  Athens Community Center Multipurpose Room A, 701 East State Street: 6:30-8:30 PM.
Thursday, November 19: Ironton, Ohio.  Ohio University Southern Campus, Collins Center, Bowman Auditorium, 1804 Liberty Avenue: 6:30-8:30 PM.
We are asking people to attend the scheduled meetings, if possible.  BFC members will be at each meeting. There is strength and synergy in numbers.
If you can’t attend,  please submit written comments critical of this contrived NEPA process, limited and incorrect notice, poor timing, and piece-meal Environmental Assessment approach.  Demand that the FS/BLM:
1. restart the process with proper Federal Register notice;
2. provide additional and meaningful opportunities for public input after the first of the year;
3. revise the outdated Wayne National Forest Plan to include consideration of the impacts of new oil & gas extraction technologies prior to leasing federal mineral rights;
4. prepare a full & comprehensive EIS to address the site-specific AND cumulative impacts of this forest-wide proposal.
5.  not subsidize the oil & gas industry by handing over public rights at the bottom of a local & worldwide energy market; and
6.  prevent further contribution to climate change by keeping these public fossil fuels in the ground undisturbed.
For background information on previous attempts to lease mineral rights under the Wayne, please see:
Please send comments to:
Kurt Wadzinski
Planning & Environmental Coordinator
BLM-Eastern States
Northeastern States District Office
626 East Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 200
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202
Office:  414.297.4408
For more information, contact Teresa Mills at:
______________________________________________________

Keep an eye on ACFAN’s facebook and website for more information to come about community actions to protest this dangerous and illegal process!

Torch OH residents organize

Residents of Torch and Coolville, Ohio, near the K&H injection well facility have come together several times in recent months and plan to continue meeting and organizing to educate the community and public officials about impacts they’re experiencing from the industrial facility that has taken over their community in the past three years.  Noise, smells, truck traffic, and earth tremors have become common, day and night. WTAP covered their recent meeting with this report: Concerned Citizens of Coolville Organize.

And now the group has published and is distributing the following fact sheet, which also announces their next public meeting on October 1 at 6:30 pm in the Coolville Fire Station:

Why should I care about INJECTION WELLS in my Ohio community?

“Fracking” is used by oil and gas companies to get more out of a gas well.  With horizontal fracking, millions of gallons of water laced with carcinogenic chemicals are shot into the ground under high pressure to fracture shale. This releases the gas & oil trapped there. What happens when this “water” comes back to the surface? Because it is toxic to plants, animals, and humans, it must be “disposed of.” Here’s where injection wells come in: they allow the toxic, radioactive waste to be pumped back into the ground where it disperses. Only the oil & gas companies (and sometimes the government) know what chemicals are in this toxic mix, and they are NOT telling.

Residents of Torch, OH now find that 3 of these Class II injection wells have been built right under their noses by K&H Partners of West Virginia in spite of opposition by Athens County Commissioners and many county residents. Only a chain link fence and “No Trespassing” signs mark the location. Holding tanks, deceptively painted green, are visible from the four-lane. The only signs of life are tanker trucks lined up around the clock waiting to expel their waste. No sign tells of the millions of gallons of toxic waste being pumped into the ground next to the rest stop.

Our County Commissioners and many residents have grave concerns about the wells:

  • Wells are just steel and concrete pipes into the ground. These wells are not enclosed containers – Where the toxic waste will migrate underground is unknown. (Drouin, 2014)
  • The holding tanks vent carcinogenic chemicals 24 hours a day. ODNR and EPA do not monitor the nearby air to determine levels of these fumes.
  • Aquifers in the region are not mapped. The K&H pipes only go down about 2000 feet. The drilled holes are about 4000 feet deep. (ODNR website) Class II wells have no monitoring wells around them. (USEPA)
  • Seismic activity has been linked to injection wells in OH and other states. (Oskin, 2015) A 3.5 magnitude earthquake shook Athens Co. Ohio on Nov. 20, 2013. (The Columbus Dispatch, 2013) Athens County was also rattled by an earthquake centered in Virginia on August 23, 2011. The wells and our homes are not built to withstand tremors.
  • Tanker trucks rumbling down our roads filled with hazardous toxic waste are only labeled “Brine” because oil & gas waste is exempt from federal hazardous waste regulations and important parts of the federal Safe Drinking Water, Clean Air, and Clean Water acts (U.S. EPA, 2014).
  • ODNR does NO testing of groundwater, surface water, or drinking water for contamination anywhere around the wells it permits and from which it profits.
  • Our fire departments and first responders have no Material Safety Data Sheets to know what chemicals are burning if there is a fire.
  • The ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management supersedes the EPA and issues injection well permits. (ODNR, 2010) NO public hearing has ever been granted when local residents and officials request one from the ODNR concerning these permits.

Please join dozens of neighbors who are concerned about this toxic, radioactive waste too. You are invited to come to an open informational meeting.  The meeting will be held at the Coolville Fire House on October 1st at 6:30 PM.

References:

Drouin, R. as_fracking_booms_growing_concerns_about_wastewater. e360.yale.edu

Oskin, B. fracking-is-not-the-cause-of-quakes-rather-its-frackings-wastewater from washingtonpost.com

State Impact PA: Deep Injections Wells: How Drilling Waste Gets Disposed Underground

U.S. EPA. Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing Under the Safe Drinking Water Act