All posts by acfan

@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.

 

 

 

550 groups call for #plastic-free president with presidential action plastics plan

See the plan at plasticfreepresident.org. ACFAN is one of 550 endorsing groups, listed there.

Coalition Press Release, December 8, 2020
Contact:

Julie Teel Simmonds, Center for Biological Diversity, (619) 990-2999, JteelSimmonds@biologicaldiversity.org
Yvette Arellano, Fenceline Watch, (281) 919-5762, fencelinewatch@gmail.com
Angela Howe, Surfrider Foundation, (949) 492-8170, ahowe@surfrider.org
Cate Bonacini, Center for International Environmental Law, (202) 742-5847, cbonacini@ciel.org

550 Groups Ask Biden to Solve Plastic Pollution Crisis With Eight Executive Actions

Presidential Plastics Action Plan Urges Incoming President to Stop New Plastic Production, Regulate Petrochemical Industry, Reduce Plastic Pollution

WASHINGTON— A coalition of more than 550 community and conservation organizations today released its Presidential Plastics Action Plan, urging President-elect Joe Biden to take eight key executive actions to solve the plastic pollution crisis.

These include a moratorium on new plastic production facilities, using federal purchasing power to curb single-use plastics, tightening up regulation of the petrochemical industry, ending fossil fuel subsidies and protecting environmental justice communities from pollution.

The plan responds to the plastic industry’s aggressive expansion of facilities using the country’s oversupply of fracked gas to make throwaway plastic that fills our oceans, landfills and landscapes. Petrochemical-plastic projects harm frontline communities with toxic air and water pollution and worsen the climate crisis.

“President-elect Biden can begin solving the plastic pollution crisis in his first days in office without any help from Congress,” said Julie Teel Simmonds, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Implementing this historic plan would protect vulnerable frontline communities and marine life while addressing a key driver of climate change. It’s time to rein in the fossil fuel industry’s insidious plans to keep fracking for plastic and polluting poor communities here and around the world.”

The Presidential Plastics Action Plan includes detailed steps Biden can take as part of eight priority actions:

  1. Use the purchasing power of the federal government to eliminate single-use plastic items and replace them with reusable products;
  2. Suspend and deny permits for new or expanded plastic production facilities, associated infrastructure projects, and exports;
  3. Make corporate polluters pay and reject false solutions;
  4. Advance environmental justice in petrochemical corridors;
  5. Update existing federal regulations using the best available science and technology to curtail pollution from plastic facilities;
  6. Stop subsidizing plastic producers;
  7. Join international efforts to address the global plastic pollution crisis through new and strengthened multilateral agreements;
  8. Reduce and mitigate the impacts of abandoned, discarded and lost fishing gear.

“There is nothing common-sense about increasing cancer rates, sterility, or developmental issues in poor communities of color just for plastic. I support the Presidential Plastics Acton Plan because plastic is not worth the sacrifice,” said Yvette Arellano with Fenceline Watch. “My state of Texas leads the country in rates of uninsured people yet is home to the largest petrochemical complex; more plastic will only benefit one of those. Instead let’s reinvest in healthcare, healthy jobs, education, and ending a global pandemic.”

Today’s plan builds on the momentum of the Break Free From Plastic Pollution movement and the bill by the same name. The plan is endorsed by 551 groups, from national environmental organizations to small community groups fighting plastic pollution.

“Plastic production and pollution impact public health, the environment, and climate and it has reached crisis levels around the world, with the United States as one of the biggest contributors. It is for this reason that Sen.Tom Udall, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and I introduced the comprehensive Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act this year, and will reintroduce it next year,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). “The Presidential Plastics Action Plan lays out how the incoming Biden Administration can lead on this plastic waste issue and enact real solutions like updating important regulations and greater cooperation with the international community. We are running out of time to deal with this crisis, but our bill and the Presidential Plastics Action Plan are important approaches to put us on the right track moving forward.”

The plan dispels the industry-promoted myth that most plastic can be recycled, citing federal figures that only about 8% of plastic consumed in the United States is recycled. Plastic pollution accumulating in the oceans is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.

“Surfrider Foundation normally approaches this problem through beach cleanups and proactively with the power of legislative proposals, but there’s untapped potential in the executive branch,” said Angela Howe, Surfrider Foundation’s legal director. “We’re calling upon this power today to solve the crisis of plastic pollution. Our ocean is dying a death of a thousand cuts, and we need a powerful, multifaceted approach to address it.”

The plan calls for Biden to appoint a Plastic Pollution Czar to coordinate plastic reduction efforts across federal agencies and internationally. It also asks him to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to develop new ways to measure and reduce plastic pollution and to update and better enforce its decades-old regulations for petrochemical plants that make plastic – something many groups behind this plan also demanded of the EPA in a pair of legal petitions last year.

“Rejoining the international community means not only rejoining Paris, it means joining the global fight against plastics as a partner, not an obstruction,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law. “President-elect Biden should commit the United States to actively support a new global treaty on plastic pollution; use U.S. trade power to support real development, not plastic polluters; and move quickly to reverse U.S. subsidies and export policies that are accelerating the plastic crisis globally.”

Today’s plan is endorsed by actress and activist Rosario Dawson, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and frontline activists like Sharon Lavigne, who is leading the fight against Formosa’s plan to build one of the world’s biggest plastic plants in St. James Parish, Louisiana.

“Plastics and the fossil fuels they’re created from are contributing to a global catastrophe. The more than 250,000 responsible businesses we represent stand ready to work with the Biden administration to reduce our reliance on plastic,” said David Levine, president and cofounder of the American Sustainable Business Council. “Together we can overhaul how we design, manufacture and distribute our products, transitioning from single-use plastics to a circular, sustainable economy that creates new business opportunities and more jobs.”

Anti-plastic activists across the country also recorded segments for a new video urging Biden to adopt the plan and become the first #PlasticFreePresident. They also projected anti-plastic messages on significant buildings in San Francisco, New Orleans and other cities. The video and images are available for media use here.

“Everyone in America—regardless of the color of their skin, where they live, or how wealthy their community is—should be able to take a breath or pour a glass of water without ingesting dangerous chemicals and microscopic plastics,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley. “Nobody wants to go to the beach and see mountains of single-use plastic waste. And plastic production is a major driver of pollution accelerating the climate crisis that has already claimed lives and livelihoods in every corner of our country.  America was creative enough to invent a million uses for plastic, and now we have to use that creativity to clean up our act and design better alternatives.  Our kids’ health and futures depend on America tackling this urgent problem.”

Convening partners for the plan are Azulita Project, Beyond Plastics, Break Free From Plastic, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Coalfield Justice, Center for International Environmental Law, Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education, Clean Air Council, Earthworks, Food and Water Watch, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Last Beach Clean Up, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services and Wishtoyo Foundation.

For a full list of supporting organizations, click here.

ACFAN pr: U.S. District Court Order vindicates environmental community, slams Wayne NF for frack leasing

Note: corrected url for comments and working group reports inserted below, 3-17-20. AND see our new video from our visit to the Wayne on March 3 on ACFAN’s video page.

Athens OH March 16, 2020­––U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson issued an Opinion and Order last week in Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. U.S. Forest Service et al., requiring the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to redo their environmental analysis of the potential harms from fracking in the Wayne National Forest. Judge Michael Watson said the agencies “demonstrated a disregard for the different types of impacts caused by fracking in the Forest. The agencies made decisions premised on a faulty foundation.” In his ruling Friday, the judge said the agencies ignored potential harm from fracking to endangered Indiana bats, waters of the Little Muskingum, and the region’s air quality. (Center’s pr and link to ruling at biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/court-stalls-fracking-leases-in-ohios-only-national-forest-2020-03-13/)

Heather Cantino, Athens County’s Future Action Network steering committee chair, involved in opposing Wayne frack leasing since 2011, stated, “The Order vindicates our community’s decades-long efforts, our broken-record appeals to the Wayne to use science and listen to public concerns. We have pointed out, since September 2011 when the Wayne first tried to lease for fracking, that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the Forest to use up-to-date science and listen to public concerns, especially on highly controversial environmental issues. Thousands of community members and a hundred thousand petitioners around the U.S. have spoken out against Wayne leasing.” Cantino added, “The Court slammed the Wayne for trying to build a case for frack leasing by stacking one ‘flimsy review’ on another equally inadequate one, like a house of cards. The House of Cards is finally falling! We thank the Center for Biological Diversity for its diligent work to legally challenge the Wayne, which led to this fantastic victory.”

Cantino noted that she, Roxanne Groff, and Christine Hughes, all ACFAN steering committee members, formed and led a working group in 2018 to participate in the Wayne planning process for a new Forest Plan. Their Working Group on Ecological Forest Management, Climate Protection, and Sustainable Economies submitted a 117-page report in January 2019, providing the Wayne with hundreds of peer-reviewed research articles and other documentation on the importance of ecological forest management to protect climate, rare old forest diversity, air, water, and local economies. “Not one of these citations is referenced, let alone assessed, in the Wayne’s Draft Assessment for their new Plan,” stated Roxanne Groff, chair of the working group. “We certainly hope that this will be remedied, given that the Court has so strongly echoed our outrage and disgust at the Wayne’s shoddy process.

ACFAN urges people to speak up by the Monday, March 23 deadline to comment on the Draft Assessment (contact info at acfan.org). “We encourage people to tell the Wayne yet again that fracking, logging, and burning destroy precious old forest diversity and ability to protect climate and also pollute air and water. These practices must be evaluated in thorough, up-to-date science with public scrutiny–the ‘hard look’ required by NEPA–as we have been telling them ad nauseum,” Groff noted, adding, “We trust that they will now finally listen.” The Working Group’s report and others are available in the Wayne Planning Reading Room (https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/ReadingRoom?project=53485) [url corrected 3-17-20]. Wayne planning process information at fs.usda.gov/detail/wayne/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fseprd695580.

Previous post (below) has more great quotes from the judge’s ruling and more. Sample COMMENTS here.

Please submit comments on Wayne Draft Assessment for new Forest Plan. Comments due March 23.

We have less than a week to submit comments on the Wayne National Forest’s Draft Assessment documents prepared as part of its planning process for a new Forest Plan. Comments are due March 23.

Please tell the Wayne to listen to public concern, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and to take the “hard look” required by NEPA at the environmental impacts of its management decisions. The Wayne’s prioritizing of logging, burning, and fracking, as spelled out in their Draft Assessment, is bad for climate, as well as for old forest biodiversity, air and water. Read a set of comments here. They incorporate language from last week’s U.S. District Court Opinion and Order in Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. U.S. Forest Service et al., which vindicate our efforts and broken-record appeals to the Wayne to use science and listen to the public as NEPA demands, especially of controversial environmental issues. The Court slams the Wayne for flimsy science and building one review on one after another equally flimsy one, like a house of cards.  Link to Court order at the Center’s press release on this win: biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/court-stalls-fracking-leases-in-ohios-onlynational-forest-2020-03-13/

Don’t feel obligated to make your comments long or fancy. Just tell the Wayne how you feel about our Forest and their management of it and that you want to be involved in the planning process and have your concerns HEARD and acknowledged.  Submit your comment here: cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=53485

Ask to be added to the Wayne’s e-mail list to receive notice of future  Wayne actions and opportunities to be involved: public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAFS/subscriber/new?topic_id=NEPA_453723_S

Please write to acfanohio [AT] gmail.com if you’d like to be added to our e-mail list. See acfan.org’s Wayne page for more information.

Thank you for raising your voice for our Forest, our climate, and our community!Maybe they’ll listen to the beings of the Forest better than they listen to us? Check out our VIDEO from this event now on ACFAN’s video page.