New Athens County injection well application. Public meeting Tues. Dec. 18, 6 pm

New Athens County Injection Well Permit Application: K&H #4: 

Commissioners to host public meeting to hear concerns TUESDAY DEC. 18 at 6 pm at Athens Community Center

Public encouraged to submit comments to ODNR directly — by Dec. 22 — if you can’t attend the meeting.

K&H Partners of Parkersburg WV has applied for another injection well permit in Torch, the 4th well at this facility. The comment period ends December 22. The application to inject 20,000 barrels of waste a day will double the 20,000 barrels total allowed daily for the three current wells. Since ODNR has never granted a public hearing on injection well permits in the county, the Athens County Commissioners have responded to requests and will host a public meeting on Tuesday, December 18, at 6 pm in the Athens Community Center to hear and gather citizens’ concerns and submit them to ODNR. The public can also send in comments directly to ODNR: e-mail to oilandgas@dnr.state.oh.us. Ref: Permit #: aPATT033024.

Members of Torch Can Do, ACFAN, and Buckeye Environmental Network (BEN) have met with the Athens County Commissioners repeatedly with concerns about these wells. Roxanne Groff, ACFAN member and BEN board chair, stated, “40,000 barrels means 1,680,000 million gallons a day of toxic radioactive pollution are being pumped down a hole in the ground.” She added, “People think that the word ‘well’ means the waste is contained. It’s not. It’s simply pushed under high pressure down a pipe, which is open at the bottom and who knows where else. The state does no monitoring of groundwater anywhere near the site.”

Torch Can Do has monitored truck traffic and recently counted as many as 60 trucks at a time parked in the Torch U.S. Rt. 50 public rest area, waiting their turn to unload waste at the tank facility. Several years ago, the group counted over 100 trucks in one day pulling into the holding facility, which is visible above the rest area. Felicia Mettler, of Torch Can Do and a BEN board member, commented, “It’s likely that there are 200-300 trucks a day coming in now, given the increase in idling trucks we’ve seen at the rest stop recently. There is still no monitoring of air quality or water testing required by Ohio law. What are these trucks doing to our community, not to mention the 2,759,800 million gallons of waste stored in those tanks that vent directly into our village? Besides the air contamination we already experience and threat of water contamination, I am very worried about an explosion at the site. Can you imagine the toxic fire that almost three million gallons of hydrocarbons would produce?”

Members of the public who can’t provide testimony at the meeting can submit comments directly by Dec. 22 to Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, 2045 Morse Road, Building F-2, Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693, (614) 265-6922, or email oilandgas@dnr.state.oh.us. Ref: Permit #: aPATT033024.

VISIT ACFAN’S INJECTION WELL PAGE for RESEARCH and NEWS.

Call your Ohio Statehouse Rep to Protect Free Speech and Oppose Sub SB 250

Ohio Sub SB 250 passed the Ohio Senate on Thursday and may be heard by the Ohio House early next week (Dec. 10). Please call your House Rep to oppose this unconstitutional suppression of basic First Amendment rights.

ACFAN’s previous post gives basic talking points. Here are some on the bill’s constitutional threats, drawn from a letter sent to the Ohio Senate President last week):

Sub SB 250 is vague, arbitrary, inconsistent with the Ohio Revised Code, unnecessary, and clearly unconstitutional. It violates due process by arbitrarily – with no definition- singling out certain infrastructure that it merely labels, with no justification or DEFINITION, “critical” and then deems undefined activities as impeding or obstruction of operations and makes them felony offenses. The bill thus violates due process. As Mr. Thomas Cartwright so pointedly and eloquently elucidated in his testimony delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee this month, the bill makes non-destructive action at some sites punishable with higher penalties (third degree felonies) than destructive behavior elsewhere (misdemeanors under Ohio law).

It thus targets people and even more so organizations deemed to support actions at these arbitrarily labeled sites for unfair extra punishment, a violation of due process, and is clearly intended to chill dissent, a fundamental violation of First Amendment rights. 

The specification of ten times higher penalties for “organizations” deemed to support covered activity (who clearly cannot control actions of people — including agent provocateurs) is clearly intended to intimidate, relying on this chilling effect that has been clearly ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in multiple decisions since the 1950s. 

Why aren’t hospitals critical infrastructure? And schools? Why is it only dirty fossil fuel corporate infrastructure that’s deemed critical? Because they’re obviously targets of first amendment protests due to their infliction of harm and the urgency, well understood by millions, if not by our current president, to avert climate disaster within the decade. The urgency and seriousness of climate catastrophe, outlined in last week’s federal 4th National Climate Assessment (whose first sentence reads: “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.”), is well understood by the educated public, including judges, such that the NECESSITY defense has even been deemed acceptable in courtrooms even when there has been clear intent to obstruct operation of these sites.

But Sub SB 250 would not just penalize destructive activity but also single out for felonious charges the vague and over-broad intent to impede or obstruct activities at these arbitrarily selected and undefined sites, leaving citizens who are concerned about the livability of our planet to wonder whether their peaceful presence on a corporate site (which may have been imposed on the community against its will or even against the wishes of its elected officials) will result in felony convictions, jail, fines, and all the consequences in our society of a felony conviction.

I urge your judicious attention to justice, law, and the fundamental constitutional rights of Ohio citizens in your consideration of this bill, whose passage would make Ohio complicit in the horrifying fascism being promoted by our president, with its explicit and intentional stifling of dissent through brute government suppression of basic constitutional rights.

Notes: This bill is based on a Koch brothers-funded ALEC-generated model. The American Legislative Exchange Council, of which the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Hoagland, is a member, is a right-wing group that generates legislation, which it then pushes in state and federal legislative bodies through members like Hoagland and other Ohio Senate and House Republicans. A bill similar to SB 250 has already been used to bring felony charges against protestors in Louisiana who were on private property with permission by the property owner to be there. They were protesting construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline.

See benohio.org resource page for the current bill’s language and testimony on SB 250.

Oppose Ohio Sub SB 250: protect freedom of speech and association

Call your Ohio Statehouse Representative. Sub SB 250 passed in the Ohio Senate on Thursday Dec. 6. It now goes to the House. See the bill (at view current version) at legislature.ohio.gov page on the bill. See Buckeye Environmental Network’s resource page for testimonies already submitted. And please spread the word to friends around Ohio, sharing ACFAN’s fb posts if you’re on fb. Rep. Jay Edwards: 614-466-2158. 

The following is excerpted from testimony recently presented on behalf of Buckeye Environmental Network and Athens County Fracking Action Network’s Steering Committee to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee  opposing Ohio Sub Senate Bill 250, which would criminalize certain protest activities and the support of those activities by individuals and organizations. 

Ohio Senate Bill 250 is a dangerous assault on civil liberties and free speech. It is unnecessary, since trespass is already covered by Ohio law. This bill creates a new level of penalties for trespass, with draconian fines and felony charges if the trespass is against so-called “critical infrastructure,” including corporate-owned pipelines and oil and gas wells (even if they are on someone’s own property) and Homeland Security sites, meaning that citizens supporting immigrants are also vulnerable to its penalties. The legislation is clearly meant to intimidate individuals and, even more dangerously, non-profit organizations that organize people to speak out against assaults by the oil and gas industry against our communities, climate, and public health. Under the bill, organizations can be held liable for others’ actions through guilt by association, with ten times greater penalties than penalties individuals would receive. This can only be intended to squelch environmental advocacy, so essential at this time of accelerating climate chaos.

We are especially outraged that this bill is being proposed as our planet begins to experience climate catastrophe brought about by corporate greed and government collusion. This is a time when the necessity defense is actually being successfully invoked in court to defend climate civil disobedience, which brings urgent attention to the role of fossil fuels and government inaction in the crisis. It is these government and corporate activities that threaten and destroy lives and property, not the peaceful, brave and selfless acts of those who practice peaceful climate disobedience.

It is especially alarming that this legislation is being introduced as our federal government moves toward fascism, which will be greatly facilitated by such state actions. Fascism is when government works hand-in-hand with corporations to end democracy, free speech and assembly, free press, and other constitutionally protected civil liberties. Also pertinent in Merriam-Webster’s definition is that fascism entails “severe economic and social regimentation and forcible suppression of opposition.” People are very alarmed at such behavior by our state’s elected officials.

The bill also stipulates that a person or organization who pays the person’s fines or damages in a civil action for damage caused to a critical infrastructure facility will [quote] “be held vicariously liable for damage caused” [unquote R.C. 2307.66(C]. This means that an individual or organization providing funds to support peaceful climate disobedience may be subject to severe financial consequences if the court assigns damage blame to protestors, who are of course not under the control of the organization. This clause could easily be used by agent provocateurs to actually destroy organizations whose goals they don’t like. This provision alone should make every citizen and public official oppose this insidious proposal.

See Buckeye Environmental Network’s resource page for further information. And this news from E&E News (11-15-18): “Since the beginning of 2010, interstate pipelines have exploded or caught fire 137 times, according to an E&E News analysis of interstate pipeline enforcement and incident data. In about 90 percent of those cases, PHMSA sought no fine.” Share that stat with Ohio State Senators. If they’re concerned about public safety and think penalties are the way to go, it’s the pipeline companies they should be writing legislation to sanction!  And that’s not to mention fracking and injection well explosions, spills, and leaks…See ACFAN’s research pages for more.

 

#youthvgov Solidarity vigil: Monday Oct. 29 at Athens County Courthouse

Climate Trial of the Century:

Young Americans v. Climate Criminals

Call to Action:

Athens Courthouse: Stand in Solidarity

Monday Oct. 29, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Please bring climate messaging signs. See graphics at www.dropbox.com/…/k6q4yc1l2sdgj63/AADSu8gxouIvJNd1x51WGIzMa….

Why? On October 29, 2018, 21 young people were to take the government to court, suing the executive branch of the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights by knowingly causing and perpetuating the climate crisis for over 50 years. Although the trial of Juliana v. U.S. has now been delayed due to a temporary stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, no one can put a pause on the #youthvgov rallies. The Athens vigil, like rallies around the country, will proceed.

While Trump and his fossil fuel cronies continue to contribute to the biggest crisis of our time, ordinary people across all 50 states — led by our youth — are rising up to demand bold action to protect our climate, our communities, and our collective future.

On October 28th and 29th, youth climate leaders will lead rallies at courthouses across the U.S. We in Athens will gather at Athens Courthouse Monday between 11:30 and 12:30 in solidarity with the courageous youth at the forefront of building a fossil free world that works for all of us.

HELP THIS LAWSUIT MAKE INTERNATIONAL NEWS on MONDAY!

Why now?  The 5th amendment protects our rights to life, liberty and property. What’s more important to our rights than breathable air, drinkable water, and a livable planet? #youthvgov is seeking constitutional and public trust protections for a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for all present and future generations.

Youth are demanding a science-based National Climate Recovery Plan––a plan that would end the reign of fossil fuels and lead to a just transition to 100% renewables for all.

When young people win this case, they are asking the court to order the executive branch to create a national Climate Recovery Plan grounded in the latest and most accurate science, to transition our energy system to 100% renewables, and to draw down CO2 from over 400 ppm to below 350 ppm.

Intensifying hurricanes sweeping the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, wildfires engulfing communities across the West, and extreme weather across the U.S. is already happening at just 1 degree celsius of warming. Time is not on our side when it comes to action on climate injustice.

Despite our federal government’s regressive actions and rhetoric, recent reports from the administration recognize the reality of climate change, even acknowledging the petrifying truth that we’re now on track for 3.8 degrees Celsius of warming. They argue that since the current track is so bad, we may as well do nothing to fix it. We won’t stand for that, and neither will our youth.

The best defense is a good offense. #youthvgov brings in the crucial question: who is responsible for fixing climate chaos? Our nation’s youth, who have done the least to contribute to the problem, or the U.S. government who has done more than any other nation over time to cause the climate crisis? There is a feasible, viable, available science-based climate recovery plan that will keep our climate system safe. Such a plan would inform how we build a fossil free world, one that works for all of us with no fossil fuel projects, 100% renewables for all, and holding accountable those most responsible for the climate crisis.

For far too long, our government has bowed to fossil fuel interests that have influenced politicians and rigged our political system for their own profit. But together with the judicial branch, we can shift the ground away from fossil fuels to a renewable energy world that puts our communities first.

The U.S. District Court in Juliana v. U.S. has already determined that the U.S. Constitution protects the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life. With internationally renowned experts testifying in support of the case, the youth expect to win by proving that the actions of their government violated that constitutional right, and that a science-based national climate recovery plan will help remedy the climate crisis.

Background: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report this month saying that not only are global consequences of climate disruption going to be worse than predicted, but they are starting sooner: “Without a radical transformation…, the world will hurtle past the 1.5 degree Celsius target of the Paris climate agreement by the middle of the century… Failing to cap global warming near that threshold dramatically increases risks to human civilization and the ecosystems that sustain life on earth.”  [1] We are hurtling toward the tipping point and the ominous spread of droughts, famines, mass migration, and regional war.

The group that has been supporting the suit since it began is Our Children’s Trust [2].  For 3 years, they have persevered through legal obstacles and attempts by government attorneys to have the case dismissed.  They refused to bow down, and now the case is scheduled to go to trial on Oct.29 at the federal court in Eugene, Oregon. Their legal strategy is based on two key points:

  1. A) The recognition that climate disruption – if left unabated – will have a severe impact within the lifetime of the younger generation of today; and
  2. B) The recognition that our legal system has long honored what is called the “public trust” – the concept that there are certain natural resources to which all citizens must have access to if they are to be able to exercise their Constitutionally-ordained right to pursue “life, liberty, and happiness”.  Clean air and water and a healthy atmosphere are examples of such key resources, and defined as being part of “the commons”.  The “public trust doctrine” holds that government has a legal obligation to protect “the commons” on behalf of all its citizens.

Our Children’s Trust is calling for people all around the country who care about our future to hold public rallies in support of the youth filing the lawsuit on both Oct.28 and 29.

A SOURCE OF HOPE – As we witness the Trump administration dismantle efforts to reduce greenhouse gases while we approach the tipping point of no return, it is difficult to hold onto hope.  But climate activists are fighting back by organizing at the local level and achieving restraints on carbon emissions at the state and city level that the federal government has failed to implement.  This trial represents another major source of hope. It is a rare opportunity to force the Trump administration to confront not only the overwhelming scientific consensus that severe climate disruption is happening but also the frightening consequences that will befall humanity if this global crisis continues to be ignored. As the stakes could not be higher and opposition from the trump-industry side is horrific, this is the “climate trial of the century.” 

Let’s show the government that it has a duty to listen to our country’s youngest citizens, and to prepare and implement a Climate Recovery Plan to protect our basic and most fundamental rights! These brave youth who represent our planet’s future need us to stand with them for all our sakes.

Footnotes:

  1. ipcc.ch/pdf/session48/pr_181008_P48_spm_en.pdf
  2. ourchildrenstrust.org and on fb and twitter: #youthvgov

Reminder: Comments to OEPA on Oxford permit due Thursday 2-22: Demand another hearing once OEPA has done its homework and followed the law!

REMINDER: This Thursday, 2-22, is the COMMENT DEADLINE on OEPA’s National Permit to Discharge (NPDES) for Oxford Mining Company’s proposed Trimble Township strip mine on Johnson Run. The draft NPDES permit is full of inaccuracies and omissions, as documented by almost two-dozen speakers at the public hearing last week. Please write Director Butler and demand another hearing on the NPDES draft permit once Oxford and OEPA have done their homework and followed the laws! Mr. Butler must require Oxford to submit accurate and complete data, and OEPA must then evaluate this data and document this evaluation as required under Ohio and federal law. It would be an abuse of power for Mr. Butler to issue a final NPDES permit without allowing the public to weigh in on a meaningful draft. The current one is a sham!

The Oxford application, on which the draft NPDES permit is based, is rife with incomplete and inaccurate data. Oxford – and likewise OEPA!–completely omits any mention of the $2.5 million and years of labor spent by OEPA, ODNR, Rural Action, and federal partners to restore the West Branch of Sunday Creek Watershed. This is in direct contradiction to Ohio and federal anti-degradation and Clean Water Act laws, which require that social and economic investments in the watershed and COSTS of the mine to the community be acknowledged by a mining applicant and considered by OEPA. This glaring omission is but one of many, suggesting an intent by Oxford and OEPA to ignore the law and Ohio regulations in an attempt to get approval for a mining project Athens County as if its for the greater good.

This OEPA permit would allow Oxford to degrade the water quality of Johnson Run and the West Branch of Sunday Creek by allowing all the retained mine water sediment and other minerals from coal company “ponds” to be discharged into Johnson Run, which flows into the West Branch of Sunday Creek. The proposed mine is in a floodplain, and Oxford has yet to submit any FEMA-required plans to the county for approval. Flooding of the sedimentation “ponds” would make any treatment moot, since untreated mine drainage is likely to flow into the creek whenever the valley floods. OEPA revealed at the hearing that they did not even know about the 400 acres recently logged upstream of the valley, let alone account for the run-off from this upstream property in its required calculations for permit issuance. OEPA also has not received engineering plans for mining within the stream buffer zone of Johnson Run. Such plans must be approved by ODNR before OEPA can grant this permit.

From a dead stream twenty years ago, the West Branch now hosts 17 species of fish and has reached water quality goals and the designation of warm water habitat over 14 miles of the creek. Restoration of the lower third of the West Branch will be completely undone, and the watershed downstream therefore impacted as well, if Johnson Run is mined.

Furthermore, the economic benefits that Oxford and OEPA claim are not substantiated and are in fact based solely on statements by a company with a history of fraud and repeated violations. Oxford claims there will be an economic revival, although the jobs will be temporary, not necessarily go to Athens County residents, and not even result in spending in the county, due to the location of the mine and the destination of its dirty coal outside the county.

OEPA Director Craig Butler has issued a draft NPDES (National Permit to Discharge Elimination System) permit and a statement, which misrepresents the facts. He wrote: “I have determined that a lowering of water quality in Johnson Run and subsequently West Branch Sunday Creek is necessary. In accordance with OAC 3745-1-05, this decision was reached only after examining a series of technical alternatives, reviewing social and economic issues related to the degradation, and considering all public and appropriate intergovernmental comments.”

Yet these are the facts: The director reviewed the 40 public comments submitted, all against the mine. Athens County receives no tax dollars from the coal extracted. Oxford does not mention the 20 years of restoration work and millions of state federal and local dollars spent reclaiming the Watershed. Director Butler did not address Oxford’s lack of compliance with OAC 3745-01-05 (B)(3)(h), which requires: “To the extent that such information is known to those in the local community or is otherwise public, a listing and description of all government or privately sponsored conservation projects that have specifically targeted improved water quality or enhanced recreational opportunities on the water body affected by the activity.” Oxford does not mention the 20-year restoration project, therefore ignoring its profound social or economic value and all that value that will lost if this mine happens. Oxford’s application instead discusses how the mine benefits Oxford, stating that the proposed surface mine is “essential for marketing strategies and as such a key element in the financial success of Oxford Mining Company LLC.”

Under federal and state law, Director Butler has a duty to preserve the remarkable improvements in the West Branch. Instead, he proposes to destroy them. OEPA and Oxford have provided no reasonable justification for Oxford to be allowed to degrade water quality of the West Branch of Sunday Creek, and have ignored negative economic and environmental impacts and input provided. OEPA has provided no evidence of required socio-economic evaluations of costs and benefits to the community of this mine. We demand such an evaluation, which will clearly show the highly detrimental social and economic impacts of this mine, which make an NPDES permit illegal and contrary to the interests and voluminously stated concerns of the residents of Athens County. We request another hearing after this evaluation is completed, when inadequacies have been addressed and our questions have been answered, before OEPA considers issuing a final permit.

Written comments can be sent through Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. Use this i.d. to identify the permit: ID # 0IL00168*AD.  Email to epa.DSWComments@epa.ohio.gov.

Thank you!

Pack the room at OEPA public hearing on coal mine permit!

Please come help pack the room at OEPA’s public hearing, Thurs., Feb. 15, at 6 pm at Burr Oak Lodge, near Glouster, on the proposed Johnson Run strip mine in Trimble Township, Athens County.  At the hearing, you can testify and tell OEPA not to issue a permit for Oxford to pollute Johnson Run.  Or just take notes to submit comments after the hearing. Or just come and help pack the room to demonstrate that this strip mine must not be permitted in our county! CARPOOLING available from Athens Community Center solar panels 5:00-5:15 pm to go to Burr Oak Lodge.  (If time allows, you might also be able to get in on the owl prowl happening at the Lodge that evening!**)

Oxford Mining Company is close to obtaining an Ohio EPA permit to allow mine water sediment and minerals from coal company “ponds” to be discharged into Johnson Run, which flows into the West Branch of Sunday Creek.  Oxford’s plans, currently supported by OEPA’s draft permit approval, will cause such severe negative impact that this part of the watershed may never recover.

The Sunday Creek Restoration Project is one of Ohio’s great success stories. It is a stellar example of collaboration and cooperation of citizens, community organizers, Ohio University, Rural Action, ODNR and OEPA, working together to reclaim one of the most degraded watersheds in our county.  $2.5 million has been spent and decades of work put into restoring the West Branch of Sunday Creek. From a dead stream twenty years ago, the West Branch now hosts 17 species of fish and has reached water quality goals and the designation of warm water habitat over 14 miles of the creek. Restoration of the lower third of the West Branch will be completely undone, and the watershed downstream therefore impacted as well, if Johnson Run is mined.

The proposed mine is in a floodplain, and Oxford has yet to submit any FEMA-required plans to the county for approval. Oxford has not submitted engineering plans for mining within the stream buffer zone of Johnson Run. The company is still contesting the road variance request from the county. Both the ODNR mining application and the water quality permit applications are full of these contradictions and inadequacies, just like the applications Oxford submitted in 2010 for the Joy Hollow mine project in Bern Township.

OEPA Director Craig Butler has issued a draft NPDES (National Permit to Discharge Elimination System) permit and a statement, which misrepresents the facts. He wrote: “I have determined that a lowering of water quality in Johnson Run and subsequently West Branch Sunday Creek is necessary. In accordance with OAC 3745-1-05, this decision was reached only after examining a series of technical alternatives, reviewing social and economic issues related to the degradation, and considering all public and appropriate intergovernmental comments.”

Yet these are the facts: The director reviewed the 40 public comments submitted, all against the mine.  Athens County receives no tax dollars from the coal extracted. Oxford does not mention the 20 years of restoration work and millions of state federal and local dollars spent reclaiming the Watershed. Director Butler did not address Oxford’s lack of compliance with OAC 3745-01-05 (B)(3)(h), which requires: “To the extent that such information is known to those in the local community or is otherwise public, a listing and description of all government or privately sponsored conservation projects that have specifically targeted improved water quality or enhanced recreational opportunities on the water body affected by the activity.” Oxford does not mention the 20-year restoration project, therefore ignoring its profound social or economic value and all that value that will lost if this mine happens.  Oxford’s application instead discusses how the mine benefits Oxford, stating that the proposed surface mine is “essential for marketing strategies and as such a key element in the financial success of Oxford Mining Company LLC.”

Ignoring his responsibility for stewardship of Ohio’s environment as well as the solid chemical and biological evidence provided to him by the collaborative Sunday Creek Watershed Group of a high quality, recovered West Branch , and with an apparent intent to prop up and perpetuate the existence of a poorly managed surface mining business, Director Butler simply rubber-stamped Oxford’s misleading application.  Under federal and state law, Director Butler has a duty to preserve the remarkable improvements in the West Branch.  Instead, he proposes to destroy them.

OEPA and Oxford have provided no reasonable justification for Oxford to be allowed to degrade water quality of the West Branch of Sunday Creek, and have ignored negative economic and environmental impacts and input provided, apparently writing off Athens County and its citizens as collateral damage so a mining company can profit at our great loss.

Please come to the OEPA public hearing on Thurs., Feb. 15, at 6 p.m., at Burr Oak Lodge near Glouster (carpooling available from the Athens Community Center solar panels 5:00-5:15) to speak or just be present. In 2011, over 100 people attended the permit hearing for the proposed Joy Hollow mine, an Oxford Mining project. The public prevailed then, and we can prevail again. We can make a difference on pollution of our streams and climate issues by stopping the assault by the coal industry in our county. Every victory is positive change for our planet!

Written comments can be sent until Feb. 22, 2018. Include ID # 0IL00168*AD. to identify the permit.  E-mail to epa.DSWComments@epa.ohio.gov, or mail to: Ohio EPA-DSW, Permits Processing, PO Box 1049, Columbus Ohio 43215-1049.

E-mail acfanohio@gmail.com for more information. Thanks for your support!

** The Owl Prowl starts with a presentation in the Burr Oak Lodge at 6:30 (with 1-2 owls), followed by Pat Quackenbush calling in owls nearby.

 

 

Ohio Sub HB 393: Call on Rep. Edwards to withdraw his support of this dangerous bill!

A very dangerous piece of legislation is currently being considered by the Ohio House. Rep. Jay Edwards supports HB 393, which would allow oil and gas waste to be “processed” for sale in stores for deicing Ohio roads, sidewalks, and even your own front steps. Athens City Council has already passed a resolution opposing the Senate version (SB 165). I urge all Mr. Edwards’ constituents to educate him on the disastrous implications for this dangerous bill.

Oil and gas waste can hundreds of toxic ingredients, many undisclosed (thanks to trade secrets and weak Ohio and federal regulation). Most are not subject to government regulation or health standards, although most have known health impacts. In one study by Endocrine Disruption Exchange of 980 products used in oil and gas extraction, 90% had at least one known health effect. Nearly half the products contained at least one chemical considered an endocrine disruptor (chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system, including development and reproduction, and which can have severe lifelong effects on sensitive populations, like babies and children, even at extremely low doses).

Oil and gas waste is more toxic even than the chemicals used to drill and stimulate wells, as authors of the report cited above documented: Health effects of forty chemicals and heavy metals studied from New Mexico oil and gas waste evaporation pits “produced a health profile even more hazardous than the pattern produced by the drilling and fracking chemicals.” In fact, “98% of the 40 chemicals found in the pits are listed on USEPA’s 2005 CERCLA (Superfund) list and 73% are on the 2006 EPCRA List of Lists of reportable toxic chemicals. Of the nine chemicals found to exceed the New Mexico state limits, all are on the CERCLA list and all but one are on the EPCRA List of Lists.”

There are no provisions in the bill to fully assess the composition or even do limited testing on an ongoing basis, even though oil and gas waste chemicals and toxicity vary from well to well and over time. The bill even sets out restrictions on government regulation of the very activities it would enable, restricting regulation to only very limited testing and infrequent monitoring of limited parameters. Safety would therefore be legally impossible to even strive for, let alone ensure. There is not even a requirement that testing be by an Ohio-EPA certified lab. With its provision that “[t]he chief shall not adopt rules or establish or impose additional requirements applicable to commodities governed by division (C)(9)(a) of this section,” the law makes it legally impossible to set higher standards.

Oil and gas waste is often highly radioactive and contains heavy metals. The bill does not provide any standards for monitoring of these hazards, let alone their removal. Processing waste to completely remove this contamination would obviously be technically very difficult (if even possible) and would certainly not be cheap. But since the bill doesn’t require such a standard, it’s obviously not expected to be met! Even evaluating the presence of these contaminants is very expensive. Who would pay for that? Oh, right, never mind, it’s not required and under this bill can NEVER be required!

Even processed conventional oil and gas waste can contain heavy metal and radiologicals. A recent Duke University study found radioactive materials at the bottom of three PA waterways from treated conventional oil and gas wastes. According to Duke University professor and a study author, Dr. Avner Vengosh, “Despite the fact that conventional oil and gas wastewater is treated to reduce its radium content, we still found high levels of radioactive build-up in the stream sediments we sampled.” A report on the study in Phys.org also explained, “The level of radiation found in stream sediments at the disposal sites was about 650 times higher than radiation in upstream sediments. In some cases, it even exceeded the radioactivity level that requires disposal only at federally designated radioactive waste disposal sites.” According to the US EPA, “Radium and radon are potent human carcinogens. Uranium may cause lung cancer and tumors of the lymphatic and hematopoietic tissues.” Uranium is higher in Utica than in Marcellus shale. Its dangers have been less studied.

When spread on the ground for deicing or dust control, radioactive dust can become airborne and be inhaled or deposited on crops or pastures, so that humans also ingest it from contaminated produce or animal products. Radium-226 has a half-life of 1,600 years. See also Dr. Julie Weatherington-Rice’s letter to the Energy and Nat. Res. Committee on SB 165 on the extreme dangers of spreading conventional oil and gas waste. Please urge Mr. Edwards to reconsider his support for this dangerous bill, with its fatal implications for Ohioans’ health and wellbeing, ph: (614) 466-2158; rep94@ohiohouse.gov. Thank you.

Call Sherrod Brown today!

In spite of both science and appeals from nearly 100,000 people, Kathleen Atkinson, U.S. Forest ServiceRegional Forester, allowed the Dec. 13 BLM auction to take place. Center for Biological Diversity is leading a coalition of environmental organizations in filing their intent to sue the government for this illegal and very dangerous action.

Now BLM has announced another sale of land for fracking in the same Marietta Unit of Wayne National Forest, slated for March 23.

Please call Senator Brown’s office (202-224-2315, press #3 to speak to a real person) and demand he intervene. Senator Brown has stated publicly that the decision to frack public lands must be evaluated “carefully,” “responsibly, and with respect for the land and local tourism.” Since the USFS has NEVER EVALUATED fracking impacts on the Forest, let alone taken formal public input, this sale is illegal, irresponsible, and must be cancelled

Ask our elected official, Sherrod Brown, to act on his claims that he is concerned about climate and is concerned about the public having a voice in decisions that affect their National Forest.

Ask Senator Brown to demand that Regional Forester Atkinson withdraw the parcels. She is in charge of the Wayne and of the decision to allow it to be fracked. She can WITHDRAW the parcels, and the sale will be cancelled.

Ask Senator Brown to demand that Ms. Atkinson authorize a thorough Environmental Impact Statement on the impacts of fracking, as the National Environmental Policy Act requires, and which has NEVER been done for the Wayne.  Such a study requires evaluation of up-to-date science and a meaningful public input process. Other Foresters have required EIS studies of other forests, which have determined that, as is obvious, fracking will have significant impacts on air, climate, water, and forest health.

Please also call Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson’s office (414-297-3765) and tell her the same: She is in charge of the Wayne and of the decision to allow it to be fracked. She can WITHDRAW the parcels, and the sale will be cancelled. She must do an EIS of fracking impacts. Our climate, forest health, and our communities’ sustainable economies are all at stake.

Senator Brown: 202-224-2315 (press #3 to speak to a real person)

Kathleen Atkinson: 414-297-3765

 

Conservation groups file intent to sue USFS and BLM re Wayne easing

From Center for Biological Diversity:

Conservation groups today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over invalid and outdated Endangered Species Act approvals of oil and gas leasing plans for the Wayne National Forest. The Center for Biological Diversity, Ohio Environmental Council, Heartwood and Sierra Club are challenging the approvals for failing to consider the effects of fracking, white-nose syndrome and climate change on the endangered Indiana bat and other protected species threatened with extinction.

In December 2016 the BLM auctioned 719 acres of public land in the Wayne National Forest’s Marietta Unit in southeast Ohio, opening up the forest to large-scale, high-volume fracking of the Marcellus and Utica shales for the first time. The groups’ legal challenge aims to void this auction and halt fracking in the Wayne to protect the forest’s wildlife and water.

The groups assert fracking would industrialize Ohio’s only national forest, increase climate pollution, destroy the Indiana bat’s habitat, and risk contamination of water supplies that support endangered mussels and local communities.

“The Indiana bat is already over-stressed by white-nose syndrome and climate change. Summer bat detection rates in Ohio have declined by more than 50 percent since 2011,” said Wendy Park, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “But instead of protecting this fragile species, the BLM and Forest Service are allowing the razing and pollution of important bat habitat in the Wayne for harmful fracking.”

“Pipelines, well pads, and wastewater pits destroy habitat and harm people and wildlife,” said Nathan Johnson, an attorney with the Ohio Environmental Council. “These impacts are real. In 2014, a frack pad fire and chemical spill near the Wayne forced the evacuation of local residents and killed tens of thousands of fish and mussels.”

The 2014 Monroe County well pad fire resulted 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 the Wayne National Forest in Ohio is like kicking someone when they’re down,” said Tabitha Tripp of Heartwood. “This land has been overworked for the last 200 years. Are we not rich and wise enough now to let a tiny percentage go wild? Declining species need that. We need that. Instead, we are witness to the betrayal of the public trust and we have no recourse but to sue.”

The groups have also filed an appeal with the secretary of the interior to challenge the December 2016 lease sale.

As of 2016, private fracking operators had nominated 18,000 acres of the Wayne National Forest’s Marietta Unit for leasing, setting up this land to be auctioned off in upcoming lease sales that BLM conducts quarterly. Another lease auction is scheduled for March 23. BLM is accepting formal “protests” from the public for this proposal to auction over 1,100 acres of the forest until Feb. 13.

“There has been statewide opposition to leasing our only national forest for hydraulic fracturing. Ohio ranks 47th per capita in providing public lands to our state citizens. People do not want to hike near frack pads, smell diesel fuel in a forest, or fear that streams and rivers are contaminated,” said Loraine McCosker, southeast Ohio resident and co-chair of the Forests and Public Lands Committee of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter. “Along with the impact to citizens who depend on our forest to provide clean air and water and recreational lands, this habitat is critical for many endangered and declining species challenged by climate change and other threats. In addition, Ohio is currently receiving great quantities of fracking waste from within Ohio and adjacent states which is then injected into class 2 injection wells. This proposed extraction will increase the waste created thereby increasing this burden.”

They’re at it again!

In spite of both science and appeals from nearly 100,000 people, Kathleen Atkinson, U.S. Forest ServiceRegional Forester, allowed the Dec. 13 BLM auction to take place. Center for Biological Diversity is leading a coalition of environmental organizations in filing their intent to sue the government for this illegal and very dangerous action.

Now BLM has announced another sale of land for fracking in the same Marietta Unit of Wayne National Forest, slated for March 23.

Please call Senator Brown’s office (202-224-2315, press #3 to speak to a real person) and demand he intervene. Senator Brown has stated publicly that the decision to frack public lands must be evaluated “carefully,” “responsibly, and with respect for the land and local tourism.” Since the USFS has NEVER EVALUATED fracking impacts on the Forest, let alone taken formal public input, this sale is illegal, irresponsible, and must be cancelled

Ask our elected official, Sherrod Brown, to act on his claims that he is concerned about climate and is concerned about the public having a voice in decisions that affect their National Forest.

Ask Senator Brown to demand that Regional Forester Atkinson withdraw the parcels. She is in charge of the Wayne and of the decision to allow it to be fracked. She can WITHDRAW the parcels, and the sale will be cancelled.

Ask Senator Brown to demand that Ms. Atkinson authorize a thorough Environmental Impact Statement on the impacts of fracking, as the National Environmental Policy Act requires, and which has NEVER been done for the Wayne.  Such a study requires evaluation of up-to-date science and a meaningful public input process. Other Foresters have required EIS studies of other forests, which have determined that, as is obvious, fracking will have significant impacts on air, climate, water, and forest health.

Please also call Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson’s office (414-297-3765) and tell her the same: She is in charge of the Wayne and of the decision to allow it to be fracked. She can WITHDRAW the parcels, and the sale will be cancelled. She must do an EIS of fracking impacts. Our climate, forest health, and our communities’ sustainable economies are all at stake.

Senator Brown: 202-224-2315 (press #3 to speak to a real person)

Kathleen Atkinson: 414-297-3765