Legal Funds Needed for S.E. Ohio and other Line 3 Water Protectors

3 ATHENS COUNTY GRANDMOTHERS OUT ON $5k BAIL NEED SUPPORT

Proceeds that are not needed by our SE Ohio contingent will go toward the Line 3 resistance legal fund.

On July 2, SE Ohio elders Judy Smucker, Claudia Sheehan, and Anne Sparks blockaded an Enbridge Line 3 pipeyard near the Mississippi headwaters in northern Minnesota. Their action at Line 3 was supported by the Giniw Collective, as were 14 lockdowns and 28 arrests at another worksite the previous day. The three women, part of Athens County’s Future Action Network, have felony charges and bail set at $5000 each, with no 10% allowed. They are now home, sharing their story, and pursuing legal support. Over 500 Water Protectors have been arrested in the fight against Line 3. 

Please donate toward legal expenses for SE Ohio Water Protectors and Line 3 Legal Fund through Venmo or by check: 

Venmo: @Carolyn-Sheehan-10  (Add 3556 if prompted to. Make sure it’s the one with Carolyn’s photo of her smiling, wearing a pink vest, with Ridges/Radar hill in background.)

Checks, made out to Carolyn, can be sent to Carolyn Sheehan, 10666 Peach Ridge Rd, Athens, Ohio,  45701.

For tax-deductibility, checks for $200 or more can be made out to Buckeye Environmental Network (include in memo: “ACFAN water protectors”) and mailed to P.O.Box 824, Athens OH 45701.

Questions about donating? e-mail acfanohio[at]gmail.com

Line 3, an Enbridge pipeline, will carry as many as 900,000 barrels* a day of tar sands oil, the dirtiest fossil fuel, from Canada to the Great Lakes. Greenhouse gas emissions will be as much as from fifty coal-fired power plants. The new line being laid is crossing tribal lands against treaty rights as well as 200 bodies of water, affecting 800 wetlands and threatening Indigenous wild rice lakes and livelihoods. (*A barrel is 42 gallons, meaning 38 million gallons/day may flow through this pipe.) 

President Biden recently came out in support of Line 3. In an interview for Grassroot Ohio Radio on Friday, the three women urged people to contact Biden and demand he come to Line 3 to see what his decision and Line 3 are doing to the land, the people, the water, and climate. It was 94 degrees there the weekend of the grandmothers’ action.

Judy Smucker said, “I’m here as a Grandmother. I have grandchildren and a family I love. We are at a critical moment in history, a tipping point. Mother Earth is the heart of everything. She has given us all these gifts for free: clean water, clean air. We have to take care of mother earth as she takes care of us.” 

Claudia Sheehan noted, “Action is very important. Without action there is complacency, and with complacency we give the greed in the world a chance to grow. You have to stand up for your beliefs, you have to allow the spirit to move you. Take action. Find your spirit that’s going to guide you and go with it.”

Anne Sparks added, “Action is crucial now, and there are actions that everyone can take. Start learning. What is the connection between our everyday customs, habits, especially consumerism, and a pipeline threatening Native lands in Minnesota? That’s a connection we are taught not to see. So we have to learn and take action.” 

Follow Line 3 actions with @Giniw Collective on FB, Twitter, or Instagram.  Follow Athens County’s Future Action Network activities on ACFAN[dot]org and FB. ACFAN contact: acfanohio[at]gmail.com

Thank you for your support! 

Three S.E. Ohio Grandmothers Jailed following Blockade of Enbridge Line 3 Pipeyard in northern Minnesota

On July 2, three SE Ohio elders, Judy Smucker, Claudia Sheehan, and Anne Sparks, blockaded an Enbridge Line 3 pipeyard near the Mississippi headwaters in northern Minnesota. Their action halted operation of the facility for over three hours, after which they were extricated and jailed in Hubbard County jail.

The three women, part of Athens County’s Future Action Network (acfan.org), came together to take further action against Line 3 after ACFAN’s Athens Line 3 March 29 solidarity rally. Last week they went to Line 3, where their action was supported by the Giniw Collective, as were 14 lockdowns and 28 arrests at another Line 3 worksite the previous day. The three Ohio women received felony theft charges for “stealing” the gate they were locked to. They were released Saturday afternoon after $5000 bail was posted for each of them (with no 10% provision allowed), a new level of retaliation and intimidation by Hubbard County for Line 3 arrestees.

Line 3, an Enbridge pipeline, will carry over 700,000 barrels* and perhaps as much as 900,000 barrels a day of tar sands oil, the dirtiest fossil fuel, from Canada to the Great Lakes. Greenhouse gas emissions from these tar sands will be equivalent to emissions from fifty coal-fired power plants. The new line currently being laid is crossing tribal lands against treaty rights, as well as crossing 200 bodies of water, affecting 800 wetlands, and threatening Indigenous wild rice lakes and livelihoods. While Enbridge claims the new line is a safety measure (though Enbridge is responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history), the route is new, the amount of oil to be carried is greater than ever, and the amount of pristine land being disturbed and water being consumed by construction are astronomical.

(*A barrel is 42 gallons, meaning close to 38 million gallons a day may flow through this pipe.)

Judy Smucker said, “I’m here as a Grandmother. I have grandchildren and a family that I love. We are at a great moment in our history, a tipping point. Mother Earth has given us all these gifts for free: clean water, clean air. We have to take care of it. It’s the heart of everything: we take care of mother earth, she takes care of us.”

Claudia Sheehan noted, “Action is very important. Without action there is complacency, and with complacency we give the greed in the world a chance to grow. You have to stand up for your beliefs, you have to allow the spirit to move you. Take action, find your spirit that’s going to guide you and go with it.”

Anne Sparks added, “Action is crucial now, and there are actions that everyone can take. Start learning. What is the connection between our everyday customs, habits, especially consumerism, and a pipeline threatening Native lands in Minnesota? That’s a connection we are taught not to see. So we have to learn and take action.”

President Biden recently came out in support of Line 3. In an interview for Grassroot Ohio Radio on Friday, the three women urged people to contact Biden and demand he come to Line 3 to see what his decision and Line 3 mean for the land, the people, the water, and climate. It was 94 degrees in northern MN this weekend, also the week in which a Canadian town burned to the ground, fire erupted in the Gulf of Mexico, and hundreds died from the extreme heat in the U.S. northwest.

Note: Contrary to many people’s assumptions, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) continues to carry oil. The KXL is the only pipeline that Biden canceled, one of many ongoing fossil fuel buildout projects. Many are sites of protest and legal challenges, none of which Biden has supported.

Follow Line 3 actions with Giniw Collective on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @GiniwCollective.  Follow Athens County’s Future Action Network activities on ACFAN.org and fb.

Three Athens County Women to Stand with Indigenous Water Protectors in Minnesota

Athens, Ohio, 6-22-21––Three Athens elders will travel to northern Minnesota this week in support of Indigenous women-led water protectors who are resisting construction of an enlarged tar sands pipeline that would take a new route through tribal lands.  The women released a statement explaining why they feel called to make this journey:

“We stand in support of all who are trying to stop construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline because it would greatly increase flow into the U.S. of Canadian tar sands, a sludge with the same carbon-heavy crude oil as the recently canceled Keystone XL pipeline would have carried. This new section of pipeline will go under more than 200 waterways and cross Mississippi River headwaters twice.  Construction, as well as likelihood of leaks, endangers resources, including wild rice, that are critical to survival of the region’s tribal communities.” 

The statement by Claudia Sheehan, Anne Sparks, and Judy Smucker continues, “Tribal communities have been putting their bodies in harm’s way for over seven years to end pipeline construction and transport of tar sands through their homelands. Last week more than 1500 people gathered to protest Line 3. Over 200 were arrested for peaceful actions to honor Indigenous Peoples’ treaties and protect our earth. Science tells us that our earth is at a tipping point. Yet our politicians subsidize fossil fuels and block clean energy, refusing to act responsibly and require use of cleaner and safer energy sources.”  

“Why do we continue to allow our water to be poisoned?” asks Anne Sparks.  “We cannot allow this pipeline to move forward.  Everyone must know that “Water is life,” as the Standing Rock collective taught us. We cannot allow our children’s future to be sacrificed for short-term corporate gain.”

Judy Smucker, a grandmother, asked, “We tell our children we love them, but do our actions match our words?” She continued, “We say we love our children, but we continue to use gas and oil and single-use plastic, a product of gas and oil. Knowing what may lie ahead for the next generation is heartbreaking. How can we leave this crisis on the shoulders of our children?  We must end the fossil fuel era now.” 

Claudia Sheehan declared,  “As deeply concerned citizens, it is our duty and an honor to support Indigenous Peoples in claiming their treaty rights and protecting our earth and the ways our planet provides for all of us. Some may dismiss us as radical, but we are not radical––we are aware: Research shows that children are already ingesting plastic in food and water. We are acting on our love for our children and grandchildren; we are takingresponsibility for the future that we will leave them. We have to make the right choices now! No, we are not radical; to do nothing is what is extreme, a radical denial of reality.”

The women were brought together for this effort through Athens County’s Future Action Network (ACFAN) and the March 29 Athens Line 3 solidarity rally. They will travel in a Prius, “though we would rather be traveling in an all-electric car or by train, powered by solar or wind, which is a practical possibility if we all demand it,” they stated.  

@JohnKerry : Stop spewing Big Oil talking points

Letter sent to John Kerry this week on which ACFAN was a signatory. The Biden Administration needs to step up to the climate crisis, not continue to pursue the fast path to doom!

April 15, 2021
Re: Your Position on Fossil Gas
Dear Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry,We have been encouraged by the seriousness with which you have re-committed the United States to addressing climate change, seeking “ambition and humility.” In January 2021, your comments at the Davos World Economic Forum recognized the real climate and financial risks of investing in gas; as you put it: “If we build out a huge infrastructure for gas now and continue to use it as the bridge fuel, when we haven’t really exhausted the other possibilities, we’re gonna be stuck with stranded assets in 10 or 20 or 30 years. […] Gas is primarily methane, and we have a huge methane problem, folks.” In addition, you called for “ending international financing of fossil fuel projects with public money.”
We agree. Fossil gas, especially in certain forms, could actually be worse for the climate than coal and oil. Gas expansion has no place in a carbon-constrained world given that methane — the major component of gas is 87 times more potent at global warming than carbon dioxide. Research has shown that no new gas or other fossil fuel power plants should have been built after 2017 in order to have half a chance at preventing dangerous climate change, and global gas production and consumption must drop by 40% worldwide over the next decade. Moreover, fossil gas will do very little to improve access to electricity – a major need in many developing countries. In fact, countries are now at risk of stranded assets from gas development in places like Mozambique, and expensive reliance on LNG imports in places like Ghana. Furthermore, gas is displacing the uptake of renewables. For these reasons, we are gravely disappointed to hear you back-track as you did last week in your conversation with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva when you said that “gas will be a bridge fuel.” At a time when countries like the UK have ended support for overseas fossil fuel projects and institutions like the European Investment Bank are phasing out all fossil fuel support by the end of the year, your new position on gas is out of step with the world’s climate leaders, and dangerous.
We also find your promotion of “net zero by 2050” pledges to be problematic. As has been well-documented, these corporate pledges only serve to distract from the real need to end fossil fuel emissions, shift responsibility away from corporate actors and Governments’ need to regulate them, and trigger land and resource grabbing from Indigenous Peoples and local communities primarily in the Global South. You cannot present yourself as a climate leader at next week’s climate summit if you are pro-gas. Therefore, we urge you to unequivocally declare that gas is not part of the solution. Addressing climate change will require comprehensive, transformational changes to our economy and financial system. Relying on delusions of gas serving as a bridge fuel will not get us to where we need to be and risks creating additional injustices. We hope you will be a true
climate leader and immediately end support for all fossil fuels internationally and end U.S. exports of all fossil fuels, as science and justice require.

200 Groups to Biden: Align Federal Fossil Fuel Programs With U.S. Climate Goals

WASHINGTON— Hundreds of climate, Native American, religious, business and conservation organizations, ACFAN among them, today called on the Biden administration to do a comprehensive environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws to align federal fossil fuel programs with U.S. climate goals to curb global warming.

The letter asks the Interior Department to evaluate a legal finding of climate harm from fossil fuel expansion. It describes how the administration can use existing laws to end new fossil fuel leasing onshore and offshore and manage a just, orderly decline of production consistent with its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The letter also calls for the fair and meaningful involvement of communities vulnerable to climate change, affected by or dependent upon the federal fossil fuel program.

In February the Biden administration issued an executive order pausing oil and gas leasing onshore and offshore pending a climate review of federal fossil fuel programs. In June the Interior Department will issue an interim report describing findings from a March online forum and public comments being solicited through April 15.

In January, 574 conservation, Native American, religious and business groups sent the then president-elect text for a proposed executive order to ban new fossil fuel leasing and permitting on federal public lands and waters.

Today’s letter, authored by Western Environmental Law Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians and Sierra Club, was signed by organizations from across the United States, many with members who live on the front lines of fossil fuel pollution and in communities harmed by climate change.

Quotes From Organizations

“The comprehensive review of the federal fossil fuels programs is a long-needed step in the right direction,” said Erik Schlenker-Goodrich, executive director of the Taos, N.M.-based Western Environmental Law Center. “Done right and coupled with investments in workers and frontline communities, it can spark a long-needed transition away from fossil fuels and toward a just, equitable and climate-resilient economy where public lands serve as a cornerstone of climate resilience and conservation, not exploitation.”

“Runaway pollution from the federal fossil fuel programs has been worsening climate chaos for decades,” said Taylor McKinnon, a senior campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Biden administration must do a comprehensive review and make frontline communities a part of this process. This will inevitably show the need for a ban on new leasing and a just, orderly decline of oil and gas extraction on public lands and waters.”

“The climate crisis requires immediate action. The BLM must put a halt to all new leasing of public lands if there is any chance of avoiding the most severe impacts of a changing climate,” said Landon Newell, a staff attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. “For far too long the BLM has wrongly elevated oil and gas leasing and development as the primary use of our nation’s public lands, threatening our climate, wildlife, cultural treasures and wild places. This unbalanced approach must stop now.”

“The writing on the wall is clear. The long-term health of our communities, economies and our climate requires phasing out fossil fuel leasing on public lands,” said Eric Huber, managing attorney for Sierra Club’s Environmental Law Program.

“We cannot afford to close our eyes to the dangers of inaction; we need bold action now to halt new leasing and to diversify economies in ways that allow everyone to benefit.”

“It’s time to put public lands and waters to work for our climate and justice, not for fossil fuels,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director at WildEarth Guardians. “We’re counting on President Biden and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to boldly reform federal oil and gas management to ensure we keep fossil fuels in the ground and our nation on track for climate progress.”

“Together our groups represent millions of people across the country all urging the Biden administration to put the health and safety of our communities and our climate before oil and gas profits,” said Nicole Ghio, senior fossil fuels program manager at Friends of the Earth. “The Department of the Interior must meaningfully engage with the public and start managing our lands and waters for the public good instead of selling out future generations to prop up the fossil fuel industry. This starts with permanently halting new leases on public lands and waters.”

“As mothers and grandmothers, we want to know that future generations have clean air, clean water and a climate-resilient economy,” said Shelley Silbert, executive director of Great Old Broads for Wilderness. “Our best use of public lands is to ensure the safety and health of America’s communities and our land, water and wildlife. The fossil fuel industry has for too long put profit above all else. The leasing pause is a valuable way to review impacts and align priorities toward a livable future.”

“Winding down federal oil and gas leasing and permitting programs is critical to saving the West,” said Natasha Léger, executive director of Citizens for a Healthy Community. “The largest climate hotspot in the U.S. is over the 15 water-producing counties for seven states in the West and Mexico, where we’re experiencing extreme drought. We cannot expect to adapt our way out of the climate, ecological and health crises exacerbated by oil and gas extraction.”

Background
Fossil fuel production on public lands causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. Peer-reviewed science estimates that a nationwide federal fossil fuel leasing ban would reduce carbon emissions by 280 million tons per year, ranking it among the most ambitious federal climate-policy proposals in recent years.

Oil, gas and coal extraction uses mines, well pads, gas lines, roads and other infrastructure that destroys habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. Oil spills and other harms from offshore drilling have done immense damage to ocean wildlife and coastal communities. Fracking and mining also pollute watersheds and waterways that provide drinking water to millions of people.

Federal fossil fuels that have not been leased to industry contain up to 450 billion tons of potential climate pollution; those already leased to industry contain up to 43 billion tons. Pollution from the world’s already producing oil and gas fields, if fully developed, would push global warming well past 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Athens OH Gathers in Solidarity with MN Indigenous Line #3 Pipeline Resistance

Athenians Gather in Solidarity with Minnesota Indigenous Line #3 Pipeline Resistance

Athens,  OH 3-29-21 – A coalition led by Ohio Youth for Climate Justice and ACFAN (Athens County’s Future Action Network, formerly Athens County Fracking Action Network) held a teach-in and rally on Monday in solidarity with Indigenous, women-led resistance[1] to Enbridge’s Line #3 pipeline being built across northern Minnesota. Indigenous groups, including Honor the Earth and Stop the Money Pipeline, have called for events around the nation to support the frontlines. Close to 50 people gathered to learn about the pipeline that will carry tar sands oil from Canada to Lake Superior. Speakers read statements from Indigenous leaders that described how the project violates treaty rights, is the target of Indigenous legal appeals, and is destroying wild rice lakes and thus Indigenous livelihoods and culture.[2] Pipeline construction is also highly correlated with increased rates of human trafficking and rape for Indigenous communities in the surrounding area.

Construction is being opposed in direct actions that have resulted in hundreds of arrests. Cusi Ballew, a Millfield resident and member of the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi Nation, told the crowd, “Last week 28 water protectors were arrested while engaging in direct action and prayer against Line 3. We can’t wait for presidents, bankers, or governors to have a change of heart about fossil fuels. Anishinaabe water protectors are asking people everywhere to join the fight, to put themselves out of their comfort zone and take mass action to stop this and every pipeline on stolen land.”

The group’s speeches and signs targeted Chase Bank specifically as “the largest fossil fuel funder in the world and a $1.8 billion dollar funder of Enbridge over the past five years[3] and called on Chase to cancel its funding of Enbridge and Line 3. Athens High School senior Julia Weber, an event organizer and the Athens Lead for event co-host, Ohio Youth for Climate Justice, stated, “Ohio Youth for Climate Justice stands with those on the front lines of the fight to defund the Line 3 pipeline and protect our Earth. As a climate justice organizer, I understand the importance of solidarity between communities, so I am here today in order to protect our resources and hold those involved with this project accountable.”

Heather Cantino, ACFAN steering committee chair and initiator of this event, stated, “Athens joins many thousands of people calling on ‘Climate President’ Biden and Congress to cancel the project and on Chase to stop funding this climate-destroying project. The Line 3 tar sands pipeline will endanger 800 bodies of water and emit as much carbon as fifty new coal plants.” Roxanne Groff urged people to take their money out of Chase Bank: “Profiting from the destruction of our planet should be a crime. Removing our money from banks with investments in fossil fuels will help end ecological disasters.”

After the teach-in, part of the crowd walked across Court Street to line the front of Chase Bank with banners and signs while Athens residents Judy Smucker and recent homeschool graduate Rio Dennis delivered two Letters to Chase to defund Line 3 to bank officials. Judy reported back to the group that the man who took the letter was very polite and said he’d look into the issue.

When asked why she helped organize the event, Smucker, grandmother to two Athens City Schools children, stated, “The harm we create today will affect future generations tomorrow – our children and our grandchildren. We care for Mother Earth, and Mother Earth cares for us – it is the Heart of everything. Right now we know our land is saying ‘Help.’ We can’t comfort ourselves by saying it’s going to be ok.”

Earlier this month, ACFAN was one of 370 organizations, representing more than ten million people, to sign onto a letter to President Biden calling on him to cancel Line 3.  “We urge you to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately reevaluate and suspend or revoke the Line 3 project’s Clean Water Act Section 404 permit,” the groups wrote. “Additionally, we urge you to revoke or amend Line 3’s presidential permit, as you did for Keystone XL, to make it clear that the permit does not authorize this massive expansion.”

[1] stopline3.org, Defund Line 3 (stopthemoneypipeline.com).

[2] Sheila Regan, “’It’s Cultural Genocide’: Inside the Fight to Stop a Pipeline on Tribal Lands,” The Guardian, 19 Feb 2021; Dan Kraker, “Ojibwe Bands Ask for Halt on Line 3 Construction,” Minnesota Public Radio, 30 December 2020

[3] ran.org/bankingonclimatechaos2021/, released March 24, 2021; ran.org/bankingonclimatechaos2021/#data-panel

photo credit (first photo): Alejandro Figueroa/The New Political

 

Victory for Wayne National Forest: Federal Court Judge blocks new leases, drilling

A ten-year protest of the Wayne National Forest’s decision to lease oil and gas rights for fracking has resulted in a victory for Ohio’s only National Forest. In May 2017, the Center for Biological Diversity, et.al., sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) over the inadequate Environmental Assessment that led to the BLM and USFS decision that Wayne National Forest lands could be auctioned for fracking.  U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson issued his final order on March 8th, 2021, blocking any new leases on the Wayne and prohibiting new drilling permits, surface disturbance on existing leases, and water withdrawals from the Little Muskingum River for already approved drilling.

In his preliminary decision (March 2020), the judge had rebuked the BLM and USFS for failing to consider threats to public health, endangered species, and watersheds before opening more than 40,000 acres of the forest to fracking. Noting that the agencies had “demonstrated a disregard for the different types of impacts caused by fracking in the Forest,” U.S. District Judge Michael Watson has now directed them to conduct new environmental reviews. The judge’s strongly worded decisions concluded that the BLM and NFS did not take “the hard look” at impacts of fracking as required by law and that their decision to lease was based on a “faulty foundation.”

“That faulty foundation is the 2006 Forest Plan, which still governs Wayne decisions,” stated Roxanne Groff, chair of the Citizens’ Working Group on Ecological Forest Management for the Wayne’s recently aborted process to develop a new Plan. Groff stated, “This out-of-date Plan has now been declared to be inadequate by a federal court.”

Heather Cantino, Working Group member and steering committee chair of Athens County’s Future Action Network (ACFAN), which formed as Athens County Fracking Action Network to fight Wayne plans to lease land for fracking in 2011, noted, “We will continue to demand a Wayne Plan that addresses climate and biodiversity threats from Wayne actions. While we very much celebrate this extremely important win, we are dismayed by the Wayne’s other destructive management practices, which we will continue to expose. Like their analysis for fracking, their practices of extensive logging and burning are based on bad science and flimsy foundations and seriously threaten our climate and the health of our forests,” Cantino concluded.

See archive of Wayne news at acfan.org/wayne-supporting-docs/

BREAKING: Abandoned Ohio Gas Well Has Been Spilling For Over a Week

Sierra Club & Partners Call For Moratorium on Fracked Gas Projects, Potential Federal Action

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Contact:  Doug Jackson, 202.495.3045 or doug.jackson@sierraclub.org

NOBLE COUNTY, OH — The Allegheny Front is reporting that a Noble County, Ohio fracked gas well has been spilling toxic radioactive oil and gas waste for over a week, with the fluid entering waterways and killing fish. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) was notified on Sunday, January 24 of the spill, but was not able to contain the spewing fluid until Wednesday, January 27. Per federal law, a spill should have to be reported to the national response center, but as of today no such report appears to have been made. It is not yet clear if state authorities ever notified the public.

In response, Shelly Corbin, Campaign Representative in Ohio for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign, released the following statement: “For too long, Ohioans have shouldered the risks of the fracked gas industry while polluting corporations reaped all the rewards. Enough is enough; Gov. DeWine should immediately issue a moratorium on fracked gas projects and the disposal of oil and gas waste in Ohio while strengthening commonsense protections for the health of our air, water, climate, and communities. If Gov. DeWine can’t protect the people of his own state from dirty, dangerous fracked gas projects, then the U.S. EPA should step in and use every power at its disposal to do so.”

In response, Teresa Mills, Executive Director of Buckeye Environmental Network released the following statement: “Ohio is like swiss cheese, there are an estimated 150,000 or more abandoned wells in Ohio that ODNR doesn’t even know the location of. As evidenced by the recent blowout, this is a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. We have been exposing Ohio as a radioactive dumping ground that accepts oil and gas waste from all over the region for more than ten years. The state follows the whims of the oil and gas industry over the residents and the environment. This must stop. Moreover, this well should have been plugged once it was determined to be non producing, according to ODNR’s own regulations.

###

NOTE: THIS news is VERY relevant to the Powhatan/Mountaineer salt cavern permit proposal. Please reference this evidence of the interconnected, unpredictable, and UNCONTROLLABLE behavior of our land, its underground channels, and our drinking water in response to human meddling, in your comments on Powhatan, due Feb. 6.

Comment deadline 2-6-21: Call for ODNR Public Hearing and comment extension on dangerous saltcavern industrial permit

Speak out now for our rights to a safe region and planet! Write ODNR to oppose Powhatan (Mountaineer) underground salt cavern industrial storage immediately adjacent to the Ohio River!

Please demand a public hearing and extension of the comment period.  Comments due Feb. 6.

Powhatan Salt Company LLC has applied to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for three Class 3 solution-mining well permits to begin creating storage caverns in the Salina salt formation, just 2.5 miles north of Clarington, OH along the Ohio River in Monroe County. The storage caverns will initially be used to produce brine from the Salina formation 6,000 feet below the surface. The brine will be piped under the Ohio River to Natrium, WV, to a chemical plant, which produces chlorine from brine.

To create these storage caverns, Powhatan Salt Company would inject millions of gallons of freshwater underground at high pressures to carve out cavities in the salt. Powhatan would withdraw approximately 1,928,000 gallons of freshwater each day from the Ohio River to carve out the first cavern. More caverns could be constructed to increase storage capacity, which could require withdrawal of approximately 380,200,000 gallons of freshwater.

The application does not disclose that, as Powhatan Salt Co. LLC and its sister company Mountaineer NGL Storage LLC have stated in numerous news stories, they have actually intended to use the caverns for the storage of natural gas liquids like ethane, propane, butanes and possibly hydrogen extracted from fracking. This use not only creates additional explosive and contamination hazards but also supports proliferation of fracking and its climate impacts and increases the massive amount of toxic, radioactive waste generated by this industrial process. Ohio Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class 3 permitting does not require modification of the permit even if this drastic change of use occurs.

Please speak out now, by writing to ODNR, to help prevent this assault on our region and our climate. Please demand a public hearing based on the significant health, environmental, and safety concerns of this project. Tell ODNR that, given these substantive health, safety, and environmental concerns, they must provide the opportunity for the people of the region to share our concerns in a public forum where people can hear one another and learn about the issues involved.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is currently reviewing Powhatan Salt Company’s application. The public has until Feb. 6 2021 to submit comments. Please submit your concerns and objections to this dangerous facility by February 6th to:

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management , 2045 Morse Road, Building F-2, Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693

Important to include: RE: UIC Well Applications Powhatan Salt Company LLC Salt-1 Salt-2 and Salt-3

or e-mail: oilandgas@dnr.ohio.gov

Sample letter.  Please personalize!

Re: UIC Well Applications Powhatan Salt Company LLC Salt-1 Salt-2 and Salt-3

To ODNR Director Mary Mertz and Division Oil and Gas Chief Eric Vendel:

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Department of Oil and Gas Resources Management must deny the three solution mining well permit applications submitted by Powhatan Salt Company for the construction of solution mining wells No. SALT – 1 SMP #2, No. SALT 2 – SMP #3, and No. SALT – 3 SMP #4.

The construction of solution mining wells will place our community’s public health and safety and natural resources at risk. Powhatan Salt Company’s (PSC) application is woefully lacking in information for the public to evaluate. Therefore, I demand a public hearing so the public can learn of and respond to the important issues raised therein in a public forum.

The following concerns are of such gravity and concern that Chief Vendel must hold a public hearing to address these substantive health, safety, and environmental issues, per OAC 1501:9-7-07 H(4)(c). I also call on the Chief to extend the comment period 60 days in order for the public to have adequate time to review the not yet available required fact sheet. A few of many significant issues regarding substantive health, environmental, and safety concerns:

  • The area of review on the map clearly shows a Class V well in the area of review, which is not identified by PSC in the application and which could be a conduit for whatever ends up in the caverns contaminating drinking water or groundwater supplies through breaches in the Class V well.
  • There are no monitoring wells indicated for the solution mines, which are necessary to detect any migration of toxic materials, and there are no seismic monitoring requirements to determine potential breaches of supposed containment. There is no emergency shutdown plan included in the applications. This is a significant problem both for brine, which could contaminate the drinking water of millions downstream, and for potential natural gas liquids (NGL) storage, which could likewise contaminate the drinking water of millions as well as cause blowouts immediately jeopardizing the lives of thousands in the region, either directly or by resultant hazardous air pollution. The inability to get blowouts under control is often due to lack of such monitoring.
  • Earthquakes are known throughout southeast Ohio, especially in recent years. A facility of this magnitude, with millions of gallons of water a day being injected under high pressure, and millions of gallons of either salty brine or, potentially, highly toxic NGLs could cause a disaster affecting millions of people in the region. ODNR must require Applicant to prove this cannot happen, because the public’s safety and health are in jeopardy.
  • There is no mention of the many abandoned underground mines throughout the area of the proposed caverns. There is no mention of fracking operations of CNX Gas LLC, which has a lateral within a ½ mile of the cavern site. How will the health and safety of the people near the operation not be jeopardized when the possibility of subsidence, conduits, and migration thus threaten the area?
  • Ohio law and rules do not require notification if the company changes its storage of river water to storage of NGL’s, which is what the project was intended to be several years ago. This is complete obfuscation from both the company and DOGRM! The public will not know that highly volatile liquid gas products will be transported through Southeast Ohio and stored in their community or upstream of their drinking water supplies. The company has no contingency plans for disasters. How does this NOT jeopardize public health and safety? This is one of many examples of the inadequacies and incompleteness of the application that require the chief to hold a public hearing under OAC 1501:9-7-07 H(4)(c).
  • Moreover, when Applicant converts the solution-mining caverns to create Applicant’s previously planned underground NGL storage, assuming the NGL storage will have a direct or an indirect connection to the interstate NGL pipeline network, a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by FERC will be required.  Receipt of that certificate should be made a permit requirement to be satisfied prior to conversion of the caverns created by solution mining to an underground storage facility. How will this be accomplished if there is no notification required of such a conversion?
  • The fact sheet required in OAC 1501:9-7-07 H(3)(a) does the public no good after this comment period and should be available to be commented on now. In that regard, the public comment period should be extended 60 days in order for the public to have adequate time for its review and use it to prepare for a public hearing.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME, COUNTY, STATE, and CONTACT INFO

Thank you. Please share!

 

Call or write Gov DeWine today to VETO SB 33 the Anti-protest Chill Bill

Senate Bill 33, the Anti-protest Chill Bill, passed the Ohio House and is on the Governor’s desk. Thousands of Ohioans have protested this bill because it will affect all of us protesting oil and gas assaults on our communities. The governor must veto this unconstitutional bill  that is intended to quash our FREE SPEECH rights. It also violates freedom of religion (see more below).

The mailboxes on the phone lines 614-466-3555 may be full. If so, try 614-644-4357 or write to Gov DeWine and tell him to VETO SB 33! governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/contact  (If you can’t get through this way, try calling again – I just got through by phone but not by e-mail.)

Ask DeWine to veto this unconstitutional, dangerous and unnecessary bill, which makes peaceful protests at oil and gas and other infrastructure sites felonies with high fines and prison sentences. It chills free speech and penalizes climate activists and citizens who are peacefully protesting dirty infrastructure in their communities and on their own land. 
Whether or not it is deemed unconstitutional and overturned in the future, it will CHILL FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS MEANWHILE.
It can also put grassroots organizations out of business, with $100,000 fines if convicted of encouraging any of the vaguely defined “tampering” at oil and gas and other infrastructure sites.

The fine print:

  1.    The bill intentionally chills constitutionally protected free speech rights with draconian fines and prison terms for peaceful activities. It is modeled on legislation by ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council, which promotes right-wing corporate agendas through model legislation. (The Ohio Senate sponsor of the legislation, Frank Hoagland, has been a member of ALEC and owns a private surveillance company.)  The bill’s vague language, where “tampering” means changing “the physical location or physical condition of the property,” and “damage” is left undefined, means that peaceful gatherings can inadvertently lead to felony convictions, fines, and prison terms.  Even putting up fliers on telephone poles could be a felony under this legislation, since communications infrastructure is covered under it. That the law may be eventually deemed unconstitutional by the courts does nothing to protect citizens and organizations meanwhile from its draconian penalties and chilling effects! Thus the Governor allowing it to become law will have serious immediate and long-lasting consequences.
  2.    The bill is unnecessary since Ohio law already covers criminal trespass and vandalism in other statutes. This bill increases penalties specifically for oil and gas infrastructure sites, including pipelines, where Americans are increasingly focusing their concern for public health and the climate, due to the urgency of these issues. Americans have already been prosecuted for peaceful tree sitson their own land when that land has been confiscated and destroyed by pipeline companies! So peaceful activity at oil and gas gets more severely penalized than violent actions elsewhere!
  3.  The bill attacks freedom of religion, since, as UU Reverend JoanVanBecelaere states, it “prohibits justice-oriented faith traditions from exercising what they believe is their religious duty to engage in public witness at those places where the health and life of people are endangered and the sacred integrity of the environment is put in jeopardy.”
  4.    Organizations that may promote such gatherings can be fined up to $100,000 even though they cannot control the behavior of event attendees, which may include agent provocateurs, who thus can financially destroy the grassroots organizations working on the frontlines of the climate justice movement.
  5. A United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights communicated with the U.S. government in 2017 stated that such bills “would highly curtail the rights to freedom of opinion and peaceful assembly in ways that are incompatible with U.S. obligations under international human rights law, in particular Articles 19 and 21 of the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights], as well as the First Amendment of the American Constitution.”

governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/contact or  phone 614-466-3555, 614-644-4357

Read testimony at statehouse committee hearings here. (There were eight proponents- all representing industry and agencies, and 171 opponents. ) Thousands have signed petitions against the bill, but many Ohioans have never heard of it! Please call or write the Governor TODAY! He could sign anytime. If he doesn’t sign or veto in 10 days, it becomes law.