22 May, 2017, Monroe County, Ohio.
After a three-day long action training conference near the Wayne National Forest, organizers from multiple groups have launched a long-term resistance encampment to defend the Wayne National Forest from fracking and fracked gas pipelines.
The action training conference was hosted by Southeast Ohio’s Appalachia Resist!, a direct action environmental justice group known for blockading the oil and gas infrastructure that threatens the rural communities where they live, as well as the recent action where a group member shut down an intersection in front of Chase Bank in Columbus to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The conference was attended by more than a hundred water protectors, land defenders, organizers and community members from around the state and region, who agreed on the goal to stop Energy Transfer Partner’s accident-ridden Rover Pipeline project, as well as Eclipse Resource’s plan to frack the Wayne National Forest. A wide variety of groups and organizers were represented, such as Keep Wayne Wild, the American Indian Movement of Ohio, Torch Can Do, Earth First!, Camp White Pine, Resist Enbridge Line 5, Radical Action for Mountains and People’s Survival, Tar Sands Blockade, the Buckeye Environmental Network, and the Athens County Fracking Action Network. “People from a lot of different backgrounds, walks of life, and organizing ideas are coming together,” said Crissa Cummings, 45, of New Marshfield. “We are sharing skills and building strategies. Companies like Energy Transfer Partners and Eclipse Resources can expect a wall of resistance.” Trainings included Strategic Direct Action, Environmental Justice and Environmental Racism, and Pipeline Resistance Strategy. Childcare and meals were provided.
Peggy Gish, 73, of Athens County says, “I’ve lived in Southeast Ohio for more than 40 years. I’ve farmed this land. 70% of the Rover Pipeline will go under farmland. We’ve seen the damage they can do. Energy Transfer Partners is the one building this pipeline, and they’re the same greedy corporation that brutalized the Standing Rock Sioux and built the Dakota Access Pipeline. We saw what they did there. We saw how they treated communities and families, children and grandmothers and people who were praying, all so that a few greedy rich people could get richer. I’m a mother, grandmother, and person of faith. I will not stand idly by while Energy Transfer Partners bullies and decimates Native American communities and Appalachian Communities. We’ve all got to stick together to protect our families, protect our farms, and protect the water. If our government and representatives won’t do it, we’ll do it ourselves, by whatever means we have to.”
Michael Rinaldi, 34, another Appalachia Resist! member, remarked that the Rover Pipeline has already been cited 18 times for serious violations. In April, they spilled more than 2 million gallons of bentonite drilling slurry into a pristine wetland in Stark County, Ohio, and last week, were ordered to stop construction entirely because of their disastrous record. He said, “Energy Transfer Partners has demonstrated their complete incompetence time and time again based on the sheer volume of violations within the short time they’ve been constructing the Rover. Wherever these pipelines are planned, people are carrying the lessons of Standing Rock to show this predatory industry that we will resist them every step of the way. The health of our communities is not for sale. Water is Life.”
Noting that since November, the Bureau of Land Management has leased nearly 2000 acres of the Wayne National forest for fracking, mostly to the out of state company Eclipse Resources, Jolana Watson, 25, a member of Appalachia Resist! said, “We are here to tell the Bureau of Land Management that our public lands are not for sale and also to remind them that public lands are stolen lands. The same companies that want to frack the Wayne and build pipelines through it are running roughshod over treaty rights and ignoring native sovereignty around the continent.”
Calvin Fulton, 21, said, “These companies always promise money, but we’ve heard it all before. We were going to get rich from coal, but we’re still poor. We were going to get rich from fracking, we’re still poor, now these pipelines are going to make us rich? Yeah right. I’ve got a message for Energy Transfer Partners and Eclipse Resources: We reject your carrot. all the supposed income and opportunity these projects claim will not go to our communities, but to those who have always exploited us and shoved us aside when we were no longer needed for their plans.”