All posts by acfan

Athens Ohio calls out Chase Bank: #Defund Line 3, stop funding climate chaos

Athens, OH, Aug. 13, 2021 – About 40 people gathered at the Athens County Courthouse across from Chase Bank in uptown Athens on Friday as part of a national call for Chase Bank to defund Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline, which is being built through northern Minnesota and Indigenous lands in violation of U.S. treaties.  The pipeline, more than 1000 miles long, will carry tar sands from Canada to refineries on Lake Superior. The refined product is largely destined for export. Speakers, songs, and chants called out Chase as the world’s largest funder of fossil fuels[1] and called on people to pull their money out of Chase Bank and let Chase know why they are taking this action. (see divest.earth/ for instructions, a model letter to send Chase, and a list of the credit cards from which Chase profits.) Speakers informed the crowd that over 600 people Water Protectors have been arrested and that Enbridge is paying local county sheriffs to carry out these arrests. Recent MN county actions against Water Protectors have involved use of tear gas and rubber bullets, with increasingly violent arrests of the nonviolent participants. Rally organizers encouraged attendees to consider join the effort in Minnesota and assured anyone going of extensive financial and logistical support. And speakers urged attendees to contact Biden (via whitehouse.gov since comment phone lines are not currently functional!) to demand he cancel Line 3 permits. One speaker noted that Biden’s campaign pledge to be a climate president cannot be met unless he cancels Enbridge’s permits. Over 100 informational fliers were distributed to passersby.

Organized by Athens County’s Future Action Network (ACFAN), the rally was led by three local women, all grandmothers, who had taken nonviolent direct action last month at Line 3. Locked to the entrance gate at an Enbridge pipeyard in northern MN on July 2, they blocked access for three hours before being arrested and jailed for 24 hours. Like many Water Protectors in recent nonviolent actions at Line 3, they are facing felony charges. A court hearing has not been set.

The women, Claudia Sheehan, Judy Smucker, and Anne Sparks, issued a statement about their commitment to this effort:

 “We call on Chase Bank, the world’s largest funder of fossil fuels, to stop funding Canada’s Enbridge pipelines. Line 3 will carry tar sands, the most carbon-intensive form of crude oil, under 800 wetlands and 200 bodies of water, crossing the headwaters of the Mississippi in two places in northern MN. Tar sands oil cannot be cleaned up from water. (Enbridge’s Grand Rapids spill, the largest inland spill in U.S. history, has left the sticky tar sands at the bottom of the Kalamazoo River for decades.) Tar sands release three times more greenhouse gases than conventional crude, and this oil does not provide any benefit to Americans, since it is refined for export.”

The women noted, “Enbridge’s permits have been fought for seven years because they don’t follow U.S. laws and Indigenous treaty rights. Enbridge is destroying fresh water even during a severe drought and is draining lakes completely, threatening wildlife as well as Indigenous livelihoods dependent on wild rice lakes.”

They conclude, “Don’t be fooled by Chase’s greenwashing with claims to fight climate chaos by lending money to pipeline companies that may use some solar power to build their pipelines. Chase’s investments are destroying our planet. Fossil fuel build-out must stop now. We have no more time left for delay.”

Anne Sparks added, “If your money is in Chase, you’re supporting the fossil fuel industry. We must end fossil fuel dependency now and be able to tell our grandchildren that we finally heeded the dire warnings all around us!”


[1] Banking on Climate Chaos 2021, ran.org

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/