Please submit comments and NEW MEETING REQUEST on Johnson Run to OEPA by Monday 10-14-19

Please ask OEPA for another meeting on the Johnson Run stripmine water degradation permit, still in process, by Monday, Oct. 14, even if you’ve submitted comments previously. And thanks to all who attended and to those who spoke at the hearing this week. It was a great showing of public knowledge and opposition to this sham permitting process.

New language to consider including (see previous post for additional talking points):
Dear Director Stevenson,
Based on new information obtained Monday October 7 at the public hearing where Erin Sherer identified the water quality in Johnson Run as being Exceptional Warm Water Habitat (EWH) and due to the presence of one coldwater fish and seven coldwater macroinvertebrates as OEPA staff emails document, the water quality of Johnson Run cannot be allowed to be lowered to warm water habitat (WWH) as that will be below the attainable  and existing use of the stream. This would violate federal antidegradation policy under 40 CFR 131.12.
It is not true that rulemaking must be done to establish designated use before maintaining and protecting the existing use of Johnson Run. EWH is the existing use of the stream ever since the stream was tested and species recorded. It is in the public’s best interest to have another meeting to fully explain and be transparent as to how the EPA will protect the special and unique species in Johnson Run.
A permit must not be granted that would violate federal Antidegradation rules under 40 CFR 131.12.
Send your request and comments to OEPA Director Laurie Stevenson, and please cc and USEPA at Use identification, C.CU, Johnson Run OIL00168*AD .
Thank you!

OEPA hearing: Johnson Run stripmine water degradation permit, Monday, Oct. 7, 6 pm at Burr Oak Lodge


OEPA is holding another public hearing on the discharge permit for the proposed strip mine in Trimble Township, Athens County. This is the second public hearing on this permit, and the OEPA has once again got it wrong! OEPA’s director wants to lower the water quality of Johnson Run, which will destroy the stream. There is NO justification for this mine.  The OEPA is violating federal antidegradation law by permitting it. We need to pack the room and tell OEPA that our voices will be heard and federal law followed!

Comments can also be sent to (include Johnson Run Mine NPDES OILOO168*AD). Also send to USEPA Region 5,; include Johnson Run OIL00168*AD CCU LLC. Please share widely and join us! 


(Issues to Address in Written Comments and/or Oral Testimony)

OEPA has not complied with federal Antidegradation Regulations, 40 CFR 131.12!

Federal Antidegradation policy and implementation methods clearly state:

  • Existing in-stream water uses and the level of water quality necessary to protect the existing uses (the highest levels of aquatic life currently present in the stream) shall be maintained and protected.
  • In allowing degradation or lowered water quality, the State shall assure water quality adequate to protect existing uses fully.

OEPA staff identified in their field testing of Johnson Run (2017) and then in testing by the consulting firm (CEC, 2018) the presence of 7 coldwater and 21 key macro-invertebrate taxa that indicate high-quality streams and one coldwater fish species. These communities consisted of high levels of sensitive (intolerant to pollution) and coldwater-adapted species. These species establish Johnson Run’s existing use.

OEPA is trying to avoid required protections by lowering the water quality in Johnson Run. This action by the director will NOT protect the existing use of the stream and is therefore illegal.

The most important point to make in comments and testimony:  Ohio EPA buried the information about what was found in Johnson Run stream and therefore will not protect Johnson Run’s coldwater fish, coldwater and key indicator macro-invertebrates, or water quality necessary to support these existing uses. This Violates the Federal Antidegradation Rule!

We must demand another public meeting to follow the one on Oct. 7 to answer ALL comments and questions presented by the public.

Comments can be submitted to Scott Foster reference Johnson Run Mine OIL00168*AD or mail OEPA, SE District Office, 2196 Front Street, Logan Ohio 43138. Please cc your comments to OEPA director Laurie Stevenson and to USEPA Region 5,; include “CCU, Johnson Run Mine OIL00168*AD” in the subject line.

E-mail for more information.

New Ohio anti-protest bill, SB 33, facing passage – act now!

Updated 4-27-19: Last chance to submit testimony, with a possible Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee vote this week on SB 33, which would criminalize protests at oil and gas infrastructure way beyond ordinary trespass or even criminal mischief penalties. The bill also targets organizations seen to support such protests with fines of 10x those imposed on individuals, up to $100,000, clearly meant to chill dissent and free speech. 

NUMBERS count. Please write to oppose this dangerous bill, whether or not you personally participate in environmental protests! At a time of climate catastrophe, we especially must support nonviolent civil disobedience done for the sake of our climate and a livable planet. The constitutional freedoms of all are at stake. Please write! Even a short statement is helpful. 
Both written testimony and testimony intended to be delivered orally in person must be sent by 9:15 a.m. on TUESDAY, April 30 to Senate Judiciary Committee chair, John Eklund, Please send a statement even if you don’t wish to testify in person. Either fill in (use “edit” tool) or include the information requested on the attached with your letter. If you would like to testify in person, the hearing is Wed., May 1 at 9:15 a.m. in the Senate North Hearing Room.
Please also write to the State Senate President Senator Larry Obhof <>  to ask him not to bring this bill to the floor for a vote if it passes the Judiciary Committee, which it will likely do. And contact your State Senator and House Representative to tell them why you oppose this bill.

The bill singles out protests at oil and gas infrastructure, among other specified places, for felony charges for criminal mischief and other activities that are normally considered misdemeanors (as specified in the bill). It makes non-violent trespassing on oil and gas infrastructure subject to much greater punishment than actions elsewhere that even risk harm to people!  (see punishments for 2911.211. (A)(1)  vs. (A)(2) below:

From the bill: “Sec. 2909.07. (A)(7) Without privilege to do so, knowingly destroy or improperly tamper with a critical infrastructure facility ….(4) Criminal mischief committed in violation of division (A)(7) of this section is a felony of the third degree .

“…Notwithstanding section 2929.31 of the Revised Code, any organization found guilty of complicity in a violation of that division under section 2923.03 of the Revised Code shall be punished with a fine that is ten times the maximum fine that can be imposed on an individual for a felony of the third degree .

“…Sec. 2911.211. (A)(1) No person shall enter or remain on the land or premises of another with purpose to commit on that land or those premises a misdemeanor, the elements of which involve causing physical harm to another person or causing another person to believe that the offender will cause physical harm to him that person.

A (2): No person shall enter or remain o n a critical infrastructure facility with purpose to destroy or tamper with the facility . (B) Whoever violates this section is guilty of aggravated trespass,. Aggravated trespass in violation of division (A)(1) of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree. Aggravated trespass in violation of division (A)(2) of this section is a felony of the third degree.”

If this (pictured) is “tampering,” it will mean activists practicing such nonviolent direct action to expose the high crimes of the oil industry will be subject to draconian fines and felony charges, and organizations deemed to promote the activity will be subject to ten times the fines leveled against individuals, even though the organizations likely have no control over the actions of individuals.

Ohio Senate Bill 33 (similar to Ohio SB 250, which passed the Senate last session but was not then considered by the Ohio House) is a dangerous assault on civil liberties and free speech. It is unnecessary, since trespass is already covered by Ohio law. The legislation is clearly meant to intimidate individuals and, even more dangerously, non-profit organizations that organize people to speak out against assaults by the oil and gas industry against our communities, climate, and public health. Under the bill, organizations can be held liable for others’ actions through guilt by association, with ten times greater penalties than penalties individuals would receive. This can only be intended to squelch environmental advocacy, so essential at this time of accelerating climate chaos.

SB 33 is vague, arbitrary, inconsistent with the Ohio Revised Code, unnecessary, and clearly unconstitutional. It violates due process by arbitrarily – with no definition- singling out certain infrastructure that it merely labels, with no justification or definition, “critical.” It thus targets people and even more so organizations deemed to support actions at these arbitrarily labeled sites for unfair extra punishment, a violation of due process, and is clearly intended to chill dissent, a fundamental violation of First Amendment rights. The specification of ten times higher penalties for “organizations” deemed to support covered activity (who clearly cannot control actions of people — including agent provocateurs often embedded in protests by industry or the government — is clearly intended to intimidate, relying on this chilling effect that has been clearly ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in multiple decisions since the 1950s. 

As Inside Climate News recently reported, “‘Even where these bills are simply introduced, even if they do not move, even if they do not become law, they have potential to chill free speech and curtail activism,’ said Maggie Ellinger-Locke, a staff attorney with Greenpeace. ‘We’re hearing from people on the frontlines of activism in these states that these bills frighten them.'”

Legislation here: Senate Judiciary Committee website or Buckeye Environmental Network’s resource page for testimony given previously on SB 33 and SB 250 (last session’s version).

Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee members:

Senator Position District Phone Email
EKLUND, John Chair  (REP) 18th Dist 614-644-7718
MANNING, Nathan H. Vice Chair (REP) 13th Dist 614-644-7613
THOMAS, Cecil Ranking Minority Dem 9th Dist  614-466-5980
COLEY II, William P. REP  4th Dist 614-466-8072
FEDOR, Teresa   . Dem 11th Dist 614-466-5204
Gavarone, Theresa REP  2nd Dist 614-466-8060
HUFFMAN, Matt REP 12th Dist 614-466-7584
LEHNER, Peggy REP 6th Dist 614-466-4538
MCCOLLEY, Rob REP 1st Dist 614-466-8150
O’BRIEN, Sean Dem 32nd Dist 614-466-7182

Sample letter. Please PERSONALIZE. Personal letters carry a lot more weight than copy and paste letters. Thanks.

Dear Senator Eklund,

Please oppose Senate Bill 33, an anti-democratic and redundant bill designed to protect the assets of fossil fuel industries, while intimidating and bankrupting conscientious objectors and their supporters.

Laws already exist to charge those who make the hard choice to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience in our communities.  Industries have the right and the means to protect their property, and citizens have the right to protest industrial activity that we believe is harmful or immoral.  Industries have profits to protect, and citizens have health and safety to preserve, for ourselves and our children.  When these two objectives clash, we have a court system to help determine which objective takes priority.

 SB 33 is an unnecessary bill that unfairly targets those rightfully alarmed young citizens who will suffer the most from climate impacts caused by the fossil fuel industry’s decades of denial.  Thank you for opposing Senate Bill 33.

Sincerely, Christine Hughes, Athens

DON’T be fooled by lies coming from Sen. Hoagland’s office. (Bill sponsor, Sen. Hoagland is a member of the rightwing American Legislative Council, which is sponsoring similar bills around the country as discussed in the Inside Climate News piece and elsewhere.) The bill does NOT state that only organizations that “PAY people to protest,” as claimed by Hoagland’s aide, are subject to the draconian fines!! (What real environmental organization pays protestors? NONE!) The bill will penalize organizations deemed to promote actions covered by this bill, even though an organization has no control over what individuals do. These and other lies are intended to obfuscate, silence dissent, and enable an industry-supported bill that will give a free pass to fossil fuel companies to continue wreaking havoc with our communities and our planet. Stop SB 33 now!

Why aren’t hospitals considered ‘critical infrastructure’? And schools? Why is it only dirty fossil fuel corporate infrastructure that’s deemed critical? Because they’re obviously targets of first amendment protests due to their infliction of harm and the urgency, well understood by hundreds of millions of people, to avert climate disaster within the decade. The urgency and seriousness of climate catastrophe, outlined the most recent federal 4th National Climate Assessment (whose first sentence reads: “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.”), is well understood by the educated public, including judges, such that the NECESSITY defense has now been used successfully* in courtrooms, even when there has been clear intent to obstruct operation of these sites.

* Note that although this news coverage questions whether the necessity defense was granted, a separate legal analysis (see entry #10 on the Mass. case) notes “At the civil infraction hearing, the judge found all defendants not responsible and acceded to a defense request to note that the ruling was by reason of necessity.” Yes!!

And for some perspective on this bill in relation to ALEC and the larger assault against the climate movement and on strategies used to counter the corporate-government assaults, see the excellent overview by the National Lawyers’ Guild (3/14/19): The Attack on Climate Justice Movements.

Check Judiciary Committee’s website each Friday (late afternoon) or write to acfanohio [at] to be notified of future hearings and  opportunities to submit formal testimony. There’s always very little notice from the Senate committee chair, so preparing testimony ahead is highly advised.

Ohioans work to get a better Wayne Forest Plan

The Wayne National Forest, Ohio’s only National Forest, has begun the process of revising its principal document, the Forest Management Plan. Under the 2012 USFS Planning Rule, this process must address climate impacts and include a rigorous effort to engage the public during all phases of Plan development. The Wayne Planning Team has been meeting with interested parties for several months and is reviewing submissions by hundreds of citizens and stakeholders about what must be changed from the current 2006 Plan, which must be considered in its forthcoming Draft Assessment.

The Wayne Planning Team created several working groups to give input. Ohio University and Marietta College are each receiving $100,000 for specific work, the latter for an assessment of oil and gas “assets”. Landowners and representatives of recreation, renewable energy, biodiversity, wild and scenic rivers and wilderness interests are participating as volunteers. When members of BEN and ACFAN realized there were no concerned-citizen groups, we initiated one: the Working Group on Ecological Forest Management, Climate Protection, and Sustainable Economies. Folks from all over Ohio who seek deep changes to current destructive Wayne management, which is supposedly governed by the highly flawed 2006 Plan, met by phone over a 3-month period and produced a 120-page document, recently submitted to the planning team. The report outlines the group’s concerns and recommendations, many drawn directly from the Economic Analysis of the 2006 Wayne National Forest Plan, commissioned by Heartwood and produced in 2008 by Christine Glaser and Karyn Moskowitz, then of GreenFire Consulting. The working group’s report, developed by Heather Cantino with input from many group participants, documents, in an extensive annotated bibliography of peer-reviewed research, the profoundly negative impacts of current Wayne management practices, especially logging, prescribed burns, leasing of oil and gas minerals, and OHV/ORV trails, as well as other forest-disturbing activities.

The italicized word supposedly, above, refers to the enormous exception to Forest governance by the 2006 Plan, which did not address high-pressure, horizontal drilling and fracturing, since fracking was not considered a potential activity when that Plan was developed. Nevertheless and in spite of over 100,000 local, regional and national voices raised in vigorous opposition over a five-year period, the USFS gave permission to the BLM to lease Wayne mineral rights for fracking, without ever conducting a NEPA-based analysis of impacts. The BLM has conducted lease auctions, and permits have been issued. BEN, ACFAN, and Heartwood have been part of a coalition led by Center for Biological Diversity to file legal challenges, many of which are pending. The working group’s report provides to the Wayne yet again the extensive documentation from peer-reviewed research of the profound harms caused by fracking to climate, air, water, and human, animal, and forest health.

A unique contribution of this working group’s report is the strong stand against prescribed burning in eastern deciduous forests and specifically at the scale of hundreds of acres per burn conducted by federal and state forest agencies with no pre- and/or post-assessment of impacts on non-target species, forest health, biodiversity, soil, air, or water. Included in the working group’s document in addition to relevant peer-reviewed literature are Buckeye Environmental Network’s updated board policy statement on prescribed burning, (praised by noted Ohio conservation biologist Guy Denny) and an observational report by three working group members (Paul Knoop, Loraine McCosker, and Heather Cantino) to two Wayne “pre-burn” sites as well as to a site burned three times, most recently nine years ago. Aided by longtime naturalist Paul Knoop’s seasoned eyes, the team noted the post-burn site’s “compacted thin soil, limited native understory plants, damaged trees, and significantly less leaf litter,.. in essence a highly impacted fragmented forest with significant invasives present.” (Ecological-Forest-Management working group report, p. 95)

The Wayne has never taken the hard look required by federal law to help save our planet rather than contribute to its destruction! Ohioans will continue to demand that the Wayne serve the economic best interests of our region required by USFS’s founding mandate and practice ecological forest management to protect biodiversity, climate, regional air and water, and human and animal health.

The plan revision process is outlined at Public comments can be submitted at any time to .

Urls of documents linked above:


“Ho, ho, ho, We say NO!” Waynettes bringing coal and anti-fracking songs to Wayne Headquarters 2015

Talking Points and more: K&H #4 Injection Well Permit Application. Please comment!

Monroe County Ohio, June 2014 frack waste tanks explode

Talking points for K&H #4 permit application

E-mail comments by Saturday 12-22 to, including REF: injection well permit application # aPATT033024

or by mail to ODNR Div. of Oil and Gas, 2045 Morse Road, Blg F-2, Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693, (614) 265-6922.

The citizens of Athens County have been protesting applications for Class II injection wells in our county since 2011! ODNR has received hundreds of letters from citizens, public officials, and water districts expressing substantive and relevant concerns about these wells being permitted in our county against our wishes and in spite of extensive scientific evidence of their ability to poison water and air and cause earthquakes, explosions and fires.

This 4th permit for K&H Partners would allow another potential 840,000 gallons of radioactive toxic waste a day to be dumped into a hole in the ground in the community of Torch Ohio, doubling, with this one well, what the three current wells accept altogether. That would potentially mean 306 million gallons of additional waste, for a total of over 600 million gallons being injected annually at this one facility.

Ohio does no water testing to determine if the high pressures necessary to inject this much waste are leading to migration of waste into surface or drinking water supplies. Ohio does not require mapping of aquifers to determine or limit where wells are sited.

Millions of gallons of radioactive, chemical-laden hydrocarbon-based waste are stored onsite, including 2.5 million gallons in one large dome tank, all less and a ¼ mile from the village of Torch. Ohio regulations do not require vapor recovery to capture the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that must be vented regularly in order to prevent explosions. Ohio does not limit or test for air emissions. Ohio does not require lightning arrestors except in urban areas. Explosions and extensive fires have been caused at such facilities in Ohio and elsewhere. Local emergency responders are not trained to deal with such fires.

We have no confidence that ODNR’s oversight program will provide protection to the health and safety of our communities. Ohio law and regulations provide:

  • No air monitoring of volatile organic compounds venting from waste storage tanks
  • No limits on air emissions venting from the waste storage tanks
  • No vapor recovery requirements for waste storage tanks, one of which holds 2.5 million gallons
  • No lightning arrestors on the 2.5 million gallon tank or any others at the site
  • No ground water monitoring for potential contamination of private wells
  • No mapping of aquifers in the region or consideration of aquifer locations for siting of wells
  • No testing for possible migration of contamination through fissures created by high-pressure injection
  • No testing for radioactive material in the waste
  • No seismic monitoring for potential earthquake activity
  • No local control or honoring of community officials’ objections or concerns
  • No monetary, job, or other economic benefits to local communities

Ohio has NEVER granted a public hearing to Athens County officials and citizens to record our grave and substantive concerns, highly relevant to health and safety and good conservation practices, as Ohio injection well law requires. As citizens, we ask for a public hearing in Athens County. The outgoing administration has violated the public trust over and over by denying people our due process to a public hearing. (ORC 1501:9-3H(2)(c))

See’s injection well page for research links and more.

Athens County Fracking Action Network,

New Athens County injection well application. Public meeting Tues. Dec. 18, 6 pm

New Athens County Injection Well Permit Application: K&H #4: 

Commissioners to host public meeting to hear concerns TUESDAY DEC. 18 at 6 pm at Athens Community Center

Public encouraged to submit comments to ODNR directly — by Dec. 22 — if you can’t attend the meeting.

K&H Partners of Parkersburg WV has applied for another injection well permit in Torch, the 4th well at this facility. The comment period ends December 22. The application to inject 20,000 barrels of waste a day will double the 20,000 barrels total allowed daily for the three current wells. Since ODNR has never granted a public hearing on injection well permits in the county, the Athens County Commissioners have responded to requests and will host a public meeting on Tuesday, December 18, at 6 pm in the Athens Community Center to hear and gather citizens’ concerns and submit them to ODNR. The public can also send in comments directly to ODNR: e-mail to Ref: Permit #: aPATT033024.

Members of Torch Can Do, ACFAN, and Buckeye Environmental Network (BEN) have met with the Athens County Commissioners repeatedly with concerns about these wells. Roxanne Groff, ACFAN member and BEN board chair, stated, “40,000 barrels means 1,680,000 million gallons a day of toxic radioactive pollution are being pumped down a hole in the ground.” She added, “People think that the word ‘well’ means the waste is contained. It’s not. It’s simply pushed under high pressure down a pipe, which is open at the bottom and who knows where else. The state does no monitoring of groundwater anywhere near the site.”

Torch Can Do has monitored truck traffic and recently counted as many as 60 trucks at a time parked in the Torch U.S. Rt. 50 public rest area, waiting their turn to unload waste at the tank facility. Several years ago, the group counted over 100 trucks in one day pulling into the holding facility, which is visible above the rest area. Felicia Mettler, of Torch Can Do and a BEN board member, commented, “It’s likely that there are 200-300 trucks a day coming in now, given the increase in idling trucks we’ve seen at the rest stop recently. There is still no monitoring of air quality or water testing required by Ohio law. What are these trucks doing to our community, not to mention the 2,759,800 million gallons of waste stored in those tanks that vent directly into our village? Besides the air contamination we already experience and threat of water contamination, I am very worried about an explosion at the site. Can you imagine the toxic fire that almost three million gallons of hydrocarbons would produce?”

Members of the public who can’t provide testimony at the meeting can submit comments directly by Dec. 22 to Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, 2045 Morse Road, Building F-2, Columbus, Ohio 43229-6693, (614) 265-6922, or email Ref: Permit #: aPATT033024.


Call your Ohio Statehouse Rep to Protect Free Speech and Oppose Sub SB 250

Ohio Sub SB 250 passed the Ohio Senate on Thursday and may be heard by the Ohio House early next week (Dec. 10). Please call your House Rep to oppose this unconstitutional suppression of basic First Amendment rights.

ACFAN’s previous post gives basic talking points. Here are some on the bill’s constitutional threats, drawn from a letter sent to the Ohio Senate President last week):

Sub SB 250 is vague, arbitrary, inconsistent with the Ohio Revised Code, unnecessary, and clearly unconstitutional. It violates due process by arbitrarily – with no definition- singling out certain infrastructure that it merely labels, with no justification or DEFINITION, “critical” and then deems undefined activities as impeding or obstruction of operations and makes them felony offenses. The bill thus violates due process. As Mr. Thomas Cartwright so pointedly and eloquently elucidated in his testimony delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee this month, the bill makes non-destructive action at some sites punishable with higher penalties (third degree felonies) than destructive behavior elsewhere (misdemeanors under Ohio law).

It thus targets people and even more so organizations deemed to support actions at these arbitrarily labeled sites for unfair extra punishment, a violation of due process, and is clearly intended to chill dissent, a fundamental violation of First Amendment rights. 

The specification of ten times higher penalties for “organizations” deemed to support covered activity (who clearly cannot control actions of people — including agent provocateurs) is clearly intended to intimidate, relying on this chilling effect that has been clearly ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in multiple decisions since the 1950s. 

Why aren’t hospitals critical infrastructure? And schools? Why is it only dirty fossil fuel corporate infrastructure that’s deemed critical? Because they’re obviously targets of first amendment protests due to their infliction of harm and the urgency, well understood by millions, if not by our current president, to avert climate disaster within the decade. The urgency and seriousness of climate catastrophe, outlined in last week’s federal 4th National Climate Assessment (whose first sentence reads: “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.”), is well understood by the educated public, including judges, such that the NECESSITY defense has even been deemed acceptable in courtrooms even when there has been clear intent to obstruct operation of these sites.

But Sub SB 250 would not just penalize destructive activity but also single out for felonious charges the vague and over-broad intent to impede or obstruct activities at these arbitrarily selected and undefined sites, leaving citizens who are concerned about the livability of our planet to wonder whether their peaceful presence on a corporate site (which may have been imposed on the community against its will or even against the wishes of its elected officials) will result in felony convictions, jail, fines, and all the consequences in our society of a felony conviction.

I urge your judicious attention to justice, law, and the fundamental constitutional rights of Ohio citizens in your consideration of this bill, whose passage would make Ohio complicit in the horrifying fascism being promoted by our president, with its explicit and intentional stifling of dissent through brute government suppression of basic constitutional rights.

Notes: This bill is based on a Koch brothers-funded ALEC-generated model. The American Legislative Exchange Council, of which the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Hoagland, is a member, is a right-wing group that generates legislation, which it then pushes in state and federal legislative bodies through members like Hoagland and other Ohio Senate and House Republicans. A bill similar to SB 250 has already been used to bring felony charges against protestors in Louisiana who were on private property with permission by the property owner to be there. They were protesting construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline.

See resource page for the current bill’s language and testimony on SB 250.

Oppose Ohio Sub SB 250: protect freedom of speech and association

Call your Ohio Statehouse Representative. Sub SB 250 passed in the Ohio Senate on Thursday Dec. 6. It now goes to the House. See the bill (at view current version) at page on the bill. See Buckeye Environmental Network’s resource page for testimonies already submitted. And please spread the word to friends around Ohio, sharing ACFAN’s fb posts if you’re on fb. Rep. Jay Edwards: 614-466-2158. 

The following is excerpted from testimony recently presented on behalf of Buckeye Environmental Network and Athens County Fracking Action Network’s Steering Committee to the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee  opposing Ohio Sub Senate Bill 250, which would criminalize certain protest activities and the support of those activities by individuals and organizations. 

Ohio Senate Bill 250 is a dangerous assault on civil liberties and free speech. It is unnecessary, since trespass is already covered by Ohio law. This bill creates a new level of penalties for trespass, with draconian fines and felony charges if the trespass is against so-called “critical infrastructure,” including corporate-owned pipelines and oil and gas wells (even if they are on someone’s own property) and Homeland Security sites, meaning that citizens supporting immigrants are also vulnerable to its penalties. The legislation is clearly meant to intimidate individuals and, even more dangerously, non-profit organizations that organize people to speak out against assaults by the oil and gas industry against our communities, climate, and public health. Under the bill, organizations can be held liable for others’ actions through guilt by association, with ten times greater penalties than penalties individuals would receive. This can only be intended to squelch environmental advocacy, so essential at this time of accelerating climate chaos.

We are especially outraged that this bill is being proposed as our planet begins to experience climate catastrophe brought about by corporate greed and government collusion. This is a time when the necessity defense is actually being successfully invoked in court to defend climate civil disobedience, which brings urgent attention to the role of fossil fuels and government inaction in the crisis. It is these government and corporate activities that threaten and destroy lives and property, not the peaceful, brave and selfless acts of those who practice peaceful climate disobedience.

It is especially alarming that this legislation is being introduced as our federal government moves toward fascism, which will be greatly facilitated by such state actions. Fascism is when government works hand-in-hand with corporations to end democracy, free speech and assembly, free press, and other constitutionally protected civil liberties. Also pertinent in Merriam-Webster’s definition is that fascism entails “severe economic and social regimentation and forcible suppression of opposition.” People are very alarmed at such behavior by our state’s elected officials.

The bill also stipulates that a person or organization who pays the person’s fines or damages in a civil action for damage caused to a critical infrastructure facility will [quote] “be held vicariously liable for damage caused” [unquote R.C. 2307.66(C]. This means that an individual or organization providing funds to support peaceful climate disobedience may be subject to severe financial consequences if the court assigns damage blame to protestors, who are of course not under the control of the organization. This clause could easily be used by agent provocateurs to actually destroy organizations whose goals they don’t like. This provision alone should make every citizen and public official oppose this insidious proposal.

See Buckeye Environmental Network’s resource page for further information. And this news from E&E News (11-15-18): “Since the beginning of 2010, interstate pipelines have exploded or caught fire 137 times, according to an E&E News analysis of interstate pipeline enforcement and incident data. In about 90 percent of those cases, PHMSA sought no fine.” Share that stat with Ohio State Senators. If they’re concerned about public safety and think penalties are the way to go, it’s the pipeline companies they should be writing legislation to sanction!  And that’s not to mention fracking and injection well explosions, spills, and leaks…See ACFAN’s research pages for more.


#youthvgov Solidarity vigil: Monday Oct. 29 at Athens County Courthouse

Climate Trial of the Century:

Young Americans v. Climate Criminals

Call to Action:

Athens Courthouse: Stand in Solidarity

Monday Oct. 29, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Please bring climate messaging signs. See graphics at…/k6q4yc1l2sdgj63/AADSu8gxouIvJNd1x51WGIzMa….

Why? On October 29, 2018, 21 young people were to take the government to court, suing the executive branch of the U.S. government for violating their constitutional rights by knowingly causing and perpetuating the climate crisis for over 50 years. Although the trial of Juliana v. U.S. has now been delayed due to a temporary stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, no one can put a pause on the #youthvgov rallies. The Athens vigil, like rallies around the country, will proceed.

While Trump and his fossil fuel cronies continue to contribute to the biggest crisis of our time, ordinary people across all 50 states — led by our youth — are rising up to demand bold action to protect our climate, our communities, and our collective future.

On October 28th and 29th, youth climate leaders will lead rallies at courthouses across the U.S. We in Athens will gather at Athens Courthouse Monday between 11:30 and 12:30 in solidarity with the courageous youth at the forefront of building a fossil free world that works for all of us.


Why now?  The 5th amendment protects our rights to life, liberty and property. What’s more important to our rights than breathable air, drinkable water, and a livable planet? #youthvgov is seeking constitutional and public trust protections for a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for all present and future generations.

Youth are demanding a science-based National Climate Recovery Plan––a plan that would end the reign of fossil fuels and lead to a just transition to 100% renewables for all.

When young people win this case, they are asking the court to order the executive branch to create a national Climate Recovery Plan grounded in the latest and most accurate science, to transition our energy system to 100% renewables, and to draw down CO2 from over 400 ppm to below 350 ppm.

Intensifying hurricanes sweeping the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, wildfires engulfing communities across the West, and extreme weather across the U.S. is already happening at just 1 degree celsius of warming. Time is not on our side when it comes to action on climate injustice.

Despite our federal government’s regressive actions and rhetoric, recent reports from the administration recognize the reality of climate change, even acknowledging the petrifying truth that we’re now on track for 3.8 degrees Celsius of warming. They argue that since the current track is so bad, we may as well do nothing to fix it. We won’t stand for that, and neither will our youth.

The best defense is a good offense. #youthvgov brings in the crucial question: who is responsible for fixing climate chaos? Our nation’s youth, who have done the least to contribute to the problem, or the U.S. government who has done more than any other nation over time to cause the climate crisis? There is a feasible, viable, available science-based climate recovery plan that will keep our climate system safe. Such a plan would inform how we build a fossil free world, one that works for all of us with no fossil fuel projects, 100% renewables for all, and holding accountable those most responsible for the climate crisis.

For far too long, our government has bowed to fossil fuel interests that have influenced politicians and rigged our political system for their own profit. But together with the judicial branch, we can shift the ground away from fossil fuels to a renewable energy world that puts our communities first.

The U.S. District Court in Juliana v. U.S. has already determined that the U.S. Constitution protects the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life. With internationally renowned experts testifying in support of the case, the youth expect to win by proving that the actions of their government violated that constitutional right, and that a science-based national climate recovery plan will help remedy the climate crisis.

Background: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report this month saying that not only are global consequences of climate disruption going to be worse than predicted, but they are starting sooner: “Without a radical transformation…, the world will hurtle past the 1.5 degree Celsius target of the Paris climate agreement by the middle of the century… Failing to cap global warming near that threshold dramatically increases risks to human civilization and the ecosystems that sustain life on earth.”  [1] We are hurtling toward the tipping point and the ominous spread of droughts, famines, mass migration, and regional war.

The group that has been supporting the suit since it began is Our Children’s Trust [2].  For 3 years, they have persevered through legal obstacles and attempts by government attorneys to have the case dismissed.  They refused to bow down, and now the case is scheduled to go to trial on Oct.29 at the federal court in Eugene, Oregon. Their legal strategy is based on two key points:

  1. A) The recognition that climate disruption – if left unabated – will have a severe impact within the lifetime of the younger generation of today; and
  2. B) The recognition that our legal system has long honored what is called the “public trust” – the concept that there are certain natural resources to which all citizens must have access to if they are to be able to exercise their Constitutionally-ordained right to pursue “life, liberty, and happiness”.  Clean air and water and a healthy atmosphere are examples of such key resources, and defined as being part of “the commons”.  The “public trust doctrine” holds that government has a legal obligation to protect “the commons” on behalf of all its citizens.

Our Children’s Trust is calling for people all around the country who care about our future to hold public rallies in support of the youth filing the lawsuit on both Oct.28 and 29.

A SOURCE OF HOPE – As we witness the Trump administration dismantle efforts to reduce greenhouse gases while we approach the tipping point of no return, it is difficult to hold onto hope.  But climate activists are fighting back by organizing at the local level and achieving restraints on carbon emissions at the state and city level that the federal government has failed to implement.  This trial represents another major source of hope. It is a rare opportunity to force the Trump administration to confront not only the overwhelming scientific consensus that severe climate disruption is happening but also the frightening consequences that will befall humanity if this global crisis continues to be ignored. As the stakes could not be higher and opposition from the trump-industry side is horrific, this is the “climate trial of the century.” 

Let’s show the government that it has a duty to listen to our country’s youngest citizens, and to prepare and implement a Climate Recovery Plan to protect our basic and most fundamental rights! These brave youth who represent our planet’s future need us to stand with them for all our sakes.


  2. and on fb and twitter: #youthvgov

Reminder: Comments to OEPA on Oxford permit due Thursday 2-22: Demand another hearing once OEPA has done its homework and followed the law!

REMINDER: This Thursday, 2-22, is the COMMENT DEADLINE on OEPA’s National Permit to Discharge (NPDES) for Oxford Mining Company’s proposed Trimble Township strip mine on Johnson Run. The draft NPDES permit is full of inaccuracies and omissions, as documented by almost two-dozen speakers at the public hearing last week. Please write Director Butler and demand another hearing on the NPDES draft permit once Oxford and OEPA have done their homework and followed the laws! Mr. Butler must require Oxford to submit accurate and complete data, and OEPA must then evaluate this data and document this evaluation as required under Ohio and federal law. It would be an abuse of power for Mr. Butler to issue a final NPDES permit without allowing the public to weigh in on a meaningful draft. The current one is a sham!

The Oxford application, on which the draft NPDES permit is based, is rife with incomplete and inaccurate data. Oxford – and likewise OEPA!–completely omits any mention of the $2.5 million and years of labor spent by OEPA, ODNR, Rural Action, and federal partners to restore the West Branch of Sunday Creek Watershed. This is in direct contradiction to Ohio and federal anti-degradation and Clean Water Act laws, which require that social and economic investments in the watershed and COSTS of the mine to the community be acknowledged by a mining applicant and considered by OEPA. This glaring omission is but one of many, suggesting an intent by Oxford and OEPA to ignore the law and Ohio regulations in an attempt to get approval for a mining project Athens County as if its for the greater good.

This OEPA permit would allow Oxford to degrade the water quality of Johnson Run and the West Branch of Sunday Creek by allowing all the retained mine water sediment and other minerals from coal company “ponds” to be discharged into Johnson Run, which flows into the West Branch of Sunday Creek. The proposed mine is in a floodplain, and Oxford has yet to submit any FEMA-required plans to the county for approval. Flooding of the sedimentation “ponds” would make any treatment moot, since untreated mine drainage is likely to flow into the creek whenever the valley floods. OEPA revealed at the hearing that they did not even know about the 400 acres recently logged upstream of the valley, let alone account for the run-off from this upstream property in its required calculations for permit issuance. OEPA also has not received engineering plans for mining within the stream buffer zone of Johnson Run. Such plans must be approved by ODNR before OEPA can grant this permit.

From a dead stream twenty years ago, the West Branch now hosts 17 species of fish and has reached water quality goals and the designation of warm water habitat over 14 miles of the creek. Restoration of the lower third of the West Branch will be completely undone, and the watershed downstream therefore impacted as well, if Johnson Run is mined.

Furthermore, the economic benefits that Oxford and OEPA claim are not substantiated and are in fact based solely on statements by a company with a history of fraud and repeated violations. Oxford claims there will be an economic revival, although the jobs will be temporary, not necessarily go to Athens County residents, and not even result in spending in the county, due to the location of the mine and the destination of its dirty coal outside the county.

OEPA Director Craig Butler has issued a draft NPDES (National Permit to Discharge Elimination System) permit and a statement, which misrepresents the facts. He wrote: “I have determined that a lowering of water quality in Johnson Run and subsequently West Branch Sunday Creek is necessary. In accordance with OAC 3745-1-05, this decision was reached only after examining a series of technical alternatives, reviewing social and economic issues related to the degradation, and considering all public and appropriate intergovernmental comments.”

Yet these are the facts: The director reviewed the 40 public comments submitted, all against the mine. Athens County receives no tax dollars from the coal extracted. Oxford does not mention the 20 years of restoration work and millions of state federal and local dollars spent reclaiming the Watershed. Director Butler did not address Oxford’s lack of compliance with OAC 3745-01-05 (B)(3)(h), which requires: “To the extent that such information is known to those in the local community or is otherwise public, a listing and description of all government or privately sponsored conservation projects that have specifically targeted improved water quality or enhanced recreational opportunities on the water body affected by the activity.” Oxford does not mention the 20-year restoration project, therefore ignoring its profound social or economic value and all that value that will lost if this mine happens. Oxford’s application instead discusses how the mine benefits Oxford, stating that the proposed surface mine is “essential for marketing strategies and as such a key element in the financial success of Oxford Mining Company LLC.”

Under federal and state law, Director Butler has a duty to preserve the remarkable improvements in the West Branch. Instead, he proposes to destroy them. OEPA and Oxford have provided no reasonable justification for Oxford to be allowed to degrade water quality of the West Branch of Sunday Creek, and have ignored negative economic and environmental impacts and input provided. OEPA has provided no evidence of required socio-economic evaluations of costs and benefits to the community of this mine. We demand such an evaluation, which will clearly show the highly detrimental social and economic impacts of this mine, which make an NPDES permit illegal and contrary to the interests and voluminously stated concerns of the residents of Athens County. We request another hearing after this evaluation is completed, when inadequacies have been addressed and our questions have been answered, before OEPA considers issuing a final permit.

Written comments can be sent through Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. Use this i.d. to identify the permit: ID # 0IL00168*AD.  Email to

Thank you!