Comments re Drilling in the Wayne National Forest

Drilling in the Wayne

I’d like to thank Christine Hughes for inviting me to participate this afternoon. I consider it an honor to be with you. Honestly though, I’ve struggled these past few days trying to figure out just what I’d like to say.

I suppose I could have said something about extractive industries and cycles of boom and bust in Appalachia. How coal production rose steadily in Ohio between 1950 and 1970 despite an 83% drop in the labor force. How the forests were cut and the streams polluted. I guess one person’s boom is another person’s bust. Why is it that people here have to sacrifice their land, and quite possibly their health, to make ends meet? Would it be any different this time around? I figured someone else might want to talk about that though.

I could have talked about how the U.S. is often touted as the Saudi Arabia of coal. And how huge deposits of natural gas in Appalachia are going to help wean us off foreign oil. At least that’s what the energy companies and politicians say. I’m still trying to figure that one out. No one seems to care that the U.S. is actually the Saudi Arabia of wasted energy. But this seemed too depressing. I didn’t want to go there.

I could have mentioned how absurd it is that all sorts of chemicals can get pumped into the ground to extract natural gas from deep deposits but we, as American citizens, are not allowed to know what those chemicals are, even though many of us suspect they’re harmful to human health and the environment. It’s a trade secret we’re told. It’s not hard to tell who is really running the country these days. Anyway, I’m terrible at keeping secrets so I had to scratch that one off my list too.

Here is what I do want to talk about today. Sixty years after publication of A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, we are still searching for a land ethic to guide our resource management decisions – one that views a wooded acre as something more than a set of building blocks for yet another suburban subdivision or the source of someone’s “cheap” energy.

I want to leave you with a few words from a piece Duke Law professor, Jedediah Purdy, wrote recently. He says . . .

“There is no equality among American landscapes: some are sacred, some protected against harm, and some sacrificed. As a result, there is no equality among Americans to the degree that they care about their landscapes, identify with them, and wish to imagine that their children and grandchildren might live there as they have. If you live in a wooded suburb of Boston and treasure the preserved lands next door, if you live in the dense neighborhoods of Boulder, Colorado, and like to duck into the Rocky Mountain National Park for your summer hikes, your relation to the land is secure, a privilege enshrined in law. But if you love the hills of southern West Virginia or Eastern Kentucky [or southeastern Ohio], if they form your idea of beauty and rest, your native or chosen image of home, then your love has prepared your heart for breaking.”

I scratch my head in disbelief sometimes. Is this really the 21st century?
––Geoff Buckley, Athens, May 23, 2012

Heather Cantino Comments, Athens Wayne National Forest headquarters, May 23, 2012:

The Wayne is responsible for evaluating significant impacts of any action it undertakes before irrevocably committing any resources. Leasing is an irrevocable commitment of resources. Therefore the EIS must happen now. The Wayne did not evaluate deep-shale drilling and horizontal fracturing in its 2006 Plan. This industrial technology has hugely significant impacts and must be evaluated by an EIS with full public input before the Wayne leases any more of the land it does control, because such leasing could entail fracking, especially in Washington County where Utica oil may be more profitable to extract.

We are so glad that you own mineral rights on at least some of your land, because at least this land can be protected. We are glad that you have full authority and responsibility to fully evaluate impacts to our community of any action on this land. You and we can protect at least this much.

I am confused though by references by Wayne officials to “evaluating surface impacts” when Forest Service Groundwater guidance documents clearly detail the Wayne’s authority over groundwater and community drinking water supplies. We are very glad that our local Wayne neighbors rather than the behemoth lease-crazy BLM is in charge of protecting our groundwater. We are glad that you have full authority, Anne, to say no to further leasing until you can be assured that there will not be harm to our drinking water from your actions.

We are concerned that groundwater has not been mapped in this area of the state. According to your agency’s guidance documents, such mapping must happen before you undertake any activities that may impact groundwater. Further leasing is clearly such an activity.

70,000 people depend on the shallow, highly permeable aquifer that lies along four Wayne parcels previously put up for bid. This aquifer is the sole source for Nelsonville, LeAx, Burr Oak Regional Water District, and Athens City. Abandoned mines underlie large areas of ALL these river parcels. Acid mine drainage corrodes both steel and concrete in a matter of decades. I am wondering how you are addressing the impossibility of preventing corrosion, well failure, spills, leaks, and accidents, especially given that every single parcel you previously sought to lease is underlain with abandoned mines?

To quote from Representative Debbie Phillips’ letter to Anne Carey yesterday, “According to the U.S. Forest Service groundwater policy and guidance documents, the Wayne National Forest has the responsibility to protect groundwater and drinking water supplies that may be affected by its activities. I ask that you carefully consider the impacts of these activities through an Environmental Impact Study.”

Forest Service is required to assess potential economic impacts before undertaking any significant action. The socioeconomic study done as required for the Wayne’s last Forest Plan does not evaluate economic impacts of past or future mining, drilling or industrialization of the Forest. There is no mention of acid mine corrosion’s threats to drinking water or of air pollution’s economic impacts on adjacent communities.

Air pollution from fracking must be evaluated –– 23 tons of volatile organics per well, according to USEPA–200 times the levels if not fracked–– and high levels of methane and particulates, making shale extraction dirtier than coal for greenhouse emissions. How are you assessing the impacts—environmental and economic—of this pollution locally and in relation to climate change?

Spills, explosions, and truck accidents happen frequently. Each frack requires up to 1500 trucks and a half-million pounds of concentrated chemicals and hauling out the more than ten million gallons of toxic waste liquid and sludge. Thousands of cases of contamination have occurred with significant public health and environmental costs. No lease stipulations, Ohio or BLM regulations or post-leasing site-specific EISes can protect against these impacts. They must be evaluated before any further leasing is authorized.

If you release any further lands to the BLM, you will be giving up your power to help protect our community drinking water, economy, safety and wellbeing. You have clear authority to say NO to leasing and to consider a ban as one alternative in an EIS, as other National Forest Supervisors have done. Or you can just say no to further leasing and wait until you do have the budget for an EIS. These are clearly the only appropriate choices. We’re fine either way.

State of the Region Conference helping local communities prepare for shale gas development

Area businesses, local governments and economic development professionals will convene on Ohio University’s Athens campus Wednesday for the inaugural Appalachian “State of the Region Conference: Understanding the Boom-Bust Cycle for Greater Sustainability.”

This showcase regional event will examine the economic and other impacts related to the development of shale gas, including the short and long term impacts on businesses and local governments in our region. Highlights of the conference include:

  • First-hand accounts from leaders in Pennsylvania who have been extensively involved in helping state and local governments and communities understand and manage the impacts of shale gas development in their area
  • Information about impacts to date of shale gas development in Carroll County, Ohio
  • Perspectives on the historical experience with boom and bust cycles in Pennsylvania and Ohio
  • Information on current and developing efforts to understand and track data about community and environmental impacts of shale gas development in Ohio
  • Guidance from experts in several fields regarding the impacts and opportunities of shale gas development in relation to industry supply chains, workforce development, investment capital, and philanthropy
  • An introduction to Jobs Ohio and Appalachians Partnering for Economic Growth (APEG)

“Shale development brings with it potential opportunities for local communities, but those opportunities will not automatically occur,” said Rick Hindman, a conference speaker and assistant director of the Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District. “This conference will highlight the deliberative planning and decisive action that will be required of local officials and citizens in order to optimize benefits for communities, minimize adverse impacts, and protect local resources.”

Keynote speaker John Quigley, principal of John H Quigley LLC, will focus on the impacts of Marcellus Shale gas development in Pennsylvania in recent years, as well as efforts by himself and others to implement a cross-organizational strategic response to this development during his tenure as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Prior to this position, Quigley’s diverse experience in the nonprofit, public and private sectors included eight years as the mayor of Hazleton, Pa., government relations manager with Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, and management positions with industry-leading companies.

The inaugural Appalachian “State of the Region Conference: Understanding the Boom-Bust Cycle for Greater Sustainability” is presented by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs with support from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration.

The conference will take place May 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Margaret M. Walter Hall, with registration opening at 8:30 a.m. For additional information and to pre-register for the conference, please visit http://www.ohio.edu/voinovichschool/news_info/calendar/.

Rally at the Wayne!

Last chance—We are NOT being heard!

Rally at Wayne National Forest Headquarters
Wednesday, May 23, 4:00 p.m.

Last chance to save our water Last chance to save our local economy!

We have gotten word that the Wayne intends to move ahead with releasing land for oil and gas leasing with “strict” permit stipulations —ODNR and BLM regs!

Any leasing will threaten our public drinking water supplies, air quality*, tourism, bike path, local food economy and safety.

We must convince Supervisor Carey that this is NOT OKAY with Southeast Ohio residents.

We will deliver 500+ signatures on petitions calling for an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of horizontal hydraulic fracturing on the Wayne with full public input.

POTLUCK picnic after our rally. Please bring your own table service and beverage, a dish to share, and blankets or chairs.

Meet at Athens Community Center solar lot at 3:40 p.m. if you’d like to carpool. Or join us at Wayne headquarters on U.S. 33 between Athens and Nelsonville.

If you haven’t signed our spring petition to the Wayne and would like to electronically, please send your name and address to heather.cantino@gmail.com. Please continue to send your letters to Anne Carey (addresses at acfan.org) and to the press. Thank you! If you would like to speak briefly, please rsvp to Heather by e-mail or at 740-594-3338.

Please join us for a strong community turnout! Numbers matter.

* One well emits 23 tons of volatile organics according to EPA, unrestricted under Ohio law.

Ohio Groups Unite to Form “Coalition to Protect Ohio’s Parks”

Goal to Keep Industrial Activities Out of Ohio’s State Parks and Forests

WHAT: A Press Conference will be held to announce the launch of the Coalition to Protect Ohio’s Parks. The goal of the coalition is to preserve Ohio’s parks and forests as places of recreation, enjoyment and reflection by keeping industrial activities (such as “fracking”) out of Ohio’s state parks and forests.

Recent e-mails released by ODNR show that state officials have consulted with the oil and gas industry on lease terms and conditions, while ignoring the concerns of park users and advocates.

WHO: Jed Thorp, Chapter Manager, Sierra Club Ohio Chapter

John Makley, Mohican Advocates

Nathan Johnson, Buckeye Forest Council

Ohio Environmental Council

Loraine McCosker, Sierra Club, Athens, OH

WHERE: Ladies Gallery, Ohio Statehouse, (first floor)

WHEN: Thursday, May 17, 1:00PM

VISUALS: Maps showing public lands that are on ODNRs short list for fracking. “Before” and “after” pictures of drilling in Ohio parks.

Strategic Advisory Committee Notes

Meeting Notes, 4/18/2012

In attendance:  Al Blazevicius (Chair), John Branner, Pat Davidson, Sheriff Pat Kelly, Richard Shaw, Pat Smith, Rob Wiley

Absent:  Mark Sullivan

Notes by:  Sonia Marcus

–       Introductions

–       Status report on Commissioners’ resolution on hydraulic fracturing

  • Baseline water testing
    • Commissioners’ letter of support
    • Voinovich study
    • Athens County Water Project
  • Letter sent to decision makers re: improving regulations
    • Governor’s energy bill includes some but not all recommendations
    • Drilling in source water protection zones still at issue
  • Road use maintenance agreement
    • Agreement as proposed by A. Stanley was approved by the County Commissioners
    • Template agreement may be announced by Governor’s office shortly
    • Entrance into road use agreement is not required by new oil/gas regulations, just encouraged

–       Discussion of Advisory Group Charge

  • Injection wells should be considered in the scope
  • Language of the charge should focus on deep shale drilling versus conventional vertical wells that are already operating in the county
  • Charge may be affected by decisions on new regulations currently being discussed at the state level
  • Best Management Practices (BMP’s) could be championed by this group via the Commissioners at the state level
  • Voluntary compliance by oil/gas companies could be more effective than regulations
  • More detailing of the elements of the oil/gas drilling process can be covered in later documents
  • Suggestion on changing language of the charge to “deep shale development” and drop references to hydraulic fracturing and drilling
  • Charge unanimously approved (see below)

–       Priority tasks

  • Minutes, amended charge to Commissioners
  • Contact list should be circulated to all members
  • Establishment of sub-committees to divide up work load (injection wells, deep shale regulations)
  • Updates to this group on water testing projects, status of Voinovich lab, Ohio Rural Water Association
  • Contact Engineer’s office re: road use agreement and how it can be used to help with road damages near active injection wells
  • Richard Shaw to discuss Voinovich School water test with LeAx
  • Contact other experts as needed (Health Dept, local injection well operators, etc.)
  • Internet links and files to key resources will be shared within the group
  • Find out exact requirements for public announcements, public input, voting process, posting of agendas and minutes, etc.

–       Scheduling

  • Group is charged with delivering recommendations in 180 days
  • Next meeting will be Wednesday, May 16, 9-11am, OSU Extension Office unless otherwise noted

–       Other

  • Injection well public presentation, 6:30-8:30pm next Wednesday at Siegfred Hall, Ohio University
  • Public comment from Sonia Marcus:
    • Question about procedural issues
    • Charge should address all phases of deep shale development, including but not limited to:  necessary water withdrawals, oil/gas drilling and production, pipeline development and operation, road use, industrial facilities required for oil/gas processing, disposal of waste, and other development impacts.

–       Meeting adjourned at 11am

CHARGE TO THE STRATEGIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON

DEEP SHALE DRILLING & HYDRAULIC FRACTURING

On February 14th, 2012, the Athens County Commissioners signed a resolution establishing the Strategic Advisory Committee to address deep shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing activities.  This Committee will provide recommendations to the Commissioners on the initiatives that can be put in place to improve the value and safety of hydraulic fracturing and to mitigate the environmental impacts of this process in Athens County.  This will include issues of land, water and air quality, public safety and health, economic value, property values, public infrastructure, quality of life, and vital natural resources.

This Committee is charged to:

  1. Identify the nature and magnitude of the potential effects that hydraulic fracturing, including waste disposal, may have in the county.  These would include on-site effects, external effects and cumulative effects.
  2. Differentiate between beneficial and adverse effects.
  3. Identify how potential adverse effects are regulated through existing state and federal venues, and identify measures the county can implement to avoid, ameliorate or mitigate the unregulated adverse effects.
  4. Identify how beneficial effects can be maintained or improved at the County level.
  5. Propose specific plans to address each issue for numbers 3 & 4.

The Committee will work in consultation with relevant state, county and city agencies and other expert resources, as appropriate.

The Committee will meet monthly.  Public notice will be given for Committee meeting dates.   The end of each meeting will include a period for public input, allowing 3 minutes per person to speak.

 

Within 180 days of its first meeting, the Committee will submit a report with recommendations to the Athens County Commissioners.

 

This charge has been approved by Committee members:

Al Blazevicius (Chair), Mark Sullivan (Vice-Chair and Athens County Commissioner), Pat Kelly (Athens County Sheriff), Richard Shaw (President of the Township Trustees Association), John Branner (Athens County Engineer’s Dept.), Pat Davidson, Pat Smith and Rob Wiley.

A message from Food and Water Watch

It’s time to show our Governor and legislators who they are accountable to: Ohioans, not the oil and gas industry! Gov. Kasich, with industry at his side, has crafted loophole-ridden fracking legislation that he hopes to push through the legislature by the end of June. Let’s give him a better idea of where Ohioans stand on fracking. Join us on June 17 and help make this the biggest anti-fracking rally yet.

We’re proud to partner with 350.org for a weekend of movement-building, movie screenings and activist trainings, June 14-16th. The weekend’s events will lead up to the biggest anti-fracking rally yet, on June 17 at the Ohio Statehouse. RSVP to let us know if you can make it to the rally, and if you’re interested, we’ll send you more information about the full weekend of events. We hope you can make it for both!

This is our chance to build the anti-fracking movement into a strong, visible and persistent force that our politicians must heed. It’s not okay for them to sit on the fence and use industry propaganda to justify their lack of accountability. Will you join us in Columbus June 17 to hold our elected officials accountable to the people?

Ohio needs a ban on fracking. As you may know, hydraulic fracturing is a harmful method of natural gas drilling that injects a mixture of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into dense rock formations to crack the rock and release natural gas. Its damaging effects can include water contamination, earthquakes and increased smog pollution. That’s not what Ohio wants. There are safer alternatives to natural gas, but there is no alternative to water.

 

Petition to Anne Carey

Petition to Anne Carey to authorize an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
before releasing any Wayne land for oil and gas leasing

Whereas:

  • The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that the Wayne consider potential impacts on the human environment, consider environmental and socioeconomic impacts on the region, including on drinking water supplies, and consider public input in an Environmental Impact Statement before authorizing any significant action,
  •  the 2006 Wayne National Forest Plan and its EIS did not consider deep-shale high-volume horizontal drilling and fracturing (HVHF),
  • HVHF is clearly a significant action,
  • Anne Carey has the discretionary power to authorize an EIS,
  • The Wayne is obligated to consider impacts on and from actions on all its land, whether or not it owns the mineral rights.

WE the undersigned call for Anne Carey to authorize an EIS in order to provide a full environmental and socioeconomic analysis of HVHF impacts and full public participation on this decision that may affect public and environmental health and the social and economic well being and viability of our county. We consider this the only legal, ethical, and moral choice.

To sign, please send your name and address to heather.cantino AT gmail.com. We will collect and periodically deliver signatures until a decision is announced.