Activists in southern Ohio were not pleased to hear that the U.S. Forest Service intends to allow drilling for natural gas in the Wayne National Forest in southern Ohio.
Here is the statement of Heather Cantino of the Athens County Fracking Action Network and a board member of the Buckeye Forest Council:
As an organizer of community protests against Wayne attempts to lease our public forest for fracking over the past eleven months, I am greatly disappointed by Anne Carey’s decision, announced Monday, Aug. 27, that there is no need for Plan revision or an Environmental Impact Statement before the Wayne National Forest moves forward with authorizing fracking on our public lands.
Ms. Carey’s decision ignores the overwhelming evidence painstakingly provided to her by the community over the past eleven months of the highly significant impacts of fracking when compared to impacts from vertical wells.
Her decision shows total disregard not only for science and fact but also for the community’s knowledge, concerns, and needs as expressed by dozens of official bodies and thousands of area residents, including the university’s president, mayors, health professionals, farmers, clergy, judges, educators, scholars, parents, business owners, and tourism officials.
Thousands of people have signed petitions, hundreds have attended rallies, and dozens have had meetings with Ms. Carey to share their knowledge and concern. These concerns must be addressed by Ms. Carey before authorizing a decision that will have significant impacts on our community.
The facts as well as our community’s wide consensus indicate the highly significant impacts of fracking. To deny this is to deny reality as well as Ms. Carey’s legal responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act and other federal law.
Fracking involves pressures of tens of thousands of pounds per square inch, chemical use of millions of pounds per well, water consumption of up to 10 million gallons per well totally lost to the hydrologic cycle, and waste production of millions of pounds of radioactive chemically laden water and solids per well.
Pipeline construction, truck traffic, likelihood of serious chemical contamination from spills, and methane and CO2 emissions all are magnitudes greater than from vertical wells.
The Wayne 2004 socioeconomic assessment for its 2006 Plan did not evaluate public health, recreation, local food, or other socioeconomic COSTS of past or future mining, drilling or industrialization of the Forest.
There is no mention of acid mine drainage’s corrosion threats to drinking water by fracking, since fracking is not evaluated. Hocking Valley Scenic Railway and Hockhocking Adena Bikeway (Athens County’s #1 and 2 tourist attractions), which both traverse the Wayne, are not mentioned. Nor are adjacent Nelsonville Public Square or Robbins Crossing. All are economically vulnerable to air and water pollution, noise and truck traffic from fracking on the Wayne, which are at magnitudes greater levels than from vertical wells. The 2004 assessment states, “Stakeholders overwhelmingly see recreation as having a major role in supporting tourism development. Most stakeholders indicated that recreation was very important to the area…” Water contamination, air pollution, truck traffic, pressure on rental housing prices, decreased land values, and reputation of our colleges and local organic food system are severe threats to our economy from fracking, as they are not from vertical well drilling. In a region long impacted by extractive industries, these new threats to our burgeoning local economy must be seriously evaluated, according to federal law. They are highly significant.
Ms. Carey’s press release states that the report (currently not available online as her press release claims it is) addresses “surface impacts.” This ignores the Forest Service’s responsibility to protect community drinking water supplies.
The public drinking water supplies of 70,000 people are at risk in Athens and Morgan Counties alone. This does not even address private water supplies and community systems in Washington County.
Casings are inadequate to protect drinking water and inevitably leak, especially under the extremely high pressures used in horizontal fracturing. Acid mine water will make that happen sooner than later.
These significant impacts cannot adequately be addressed in the permitting process, as Ms. Carey apparently states they will be. NEPA also requires that such significant impacts be addressed prior to a significant commitment of resources, i.e., leasing. The Wayne has stated that it will not allow injection wells, which only means its radioactive, highly toxic waste will be dumped elsewhere in our community.
The press release states that fracking will “improve air quality,” which is about as Orwellian and absurd as one can get. Given that Ohio law permits direct air emissions of 23 tons per well of volatile organic compounds (200x that of vertical wells), including known human carcinogens benzene and toluene, and her report states that there could be thirteen wells on the Wayne in the next three years, Ms. Carey seems to have a total disregard for fact as well as for her legal obligations.
Our farmers and small business owners have repeatedly shared with Ms. Carey their concerns about the certain impacts that fracking the Wayne will have on their ability to sell organic locally grown food and attract tourists and recreation users to their businesses. The science on greenhouse gas impacts of methane leakage and life-cycle C02 emissions from fracking is frightening.
Anne Carey's actions will encourage destruction not only of our community but of climate stability as well. Vast predicted export of liquefied “natural” gas contradicts Ms. Carey’s assertion that her actions will promote energy security.
The community will not be silenced by this irresponsible, insulting, and criminal decision.