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-EA. Please include this project # in your comments and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, cc: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org 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.