The December 13th auction of parcels of public land within the Wayne National Forest for fracking is drawing near. Committed groups of activists from around the state of Ohio and the country have been in communication with Wayne National Forest officials, BLM officials, and elected politicians in an effort to have the parcels pulled from auction.
Fracking on public lands privatizes the wealth of natural resources on and under those lands. Additionally, it deteriorates rural residential areas into industrial zones, exacerbates climate change, and poses a serious threat to drinking water. The WNF parcels set to be auctioned are all near the Ohio River and its tributaries. Fracking directly underneath the Ohio River has even been approved.
Wayne National Forest is Ohio’s only national forest. It features over 250,000 acres of land situated in Southeastern Ohio and allows for numerous outdoor activities including camping, hiking, backpacking, biking, hunting, and fishing.
A brief history of the efforts to halt fracking in WNF:
* A formal legal protest of the auction lease sale is filed by the Center of Biological Diversity. (Nov 2016)
* Many residents of SE Ohio meet personally with WNF Forester, Tony Scardina throughout 2015 and 2016.
* 97,000+ people sign a petition demanding fracking doesn’t happen in WNF. (Nov 2016)
* When the FS and BLM refuse to hold a public hearing and allow people to publicly submit comments, the Athens County commissioners hold their own public meeting. Tony Scardina receives a friendly invitation, but is a no-show. (Jun 2016)
* WNF holds a community cadre to bring together concerned citizens and industry (oil and gas) representatives. WNF representatives, including Tony Scardina, sit in on the start of the meeting, but duck out shortly after it begins. (Sep 2016)
* Tony Scardina has temporarily left Ohio and his post at WNF because he can’t face the mounting public pressure to withdraw consent. He has been “reassigned” to Montana until after the auction lease sale occurs.
* Kathleen Atkinson has reportedly left the country until after the auction lease sale because she too can’t face the public demands for discussion of withdrawing consent. She refuses to meet with concerned citizens. Not only are the voices of concerned citizens not being considered, they’re not even being heard by the public officials whose job it is to listen.
* A presidential directive dictates governmental agencies to take into consideration climate change in all NEPA evaluations, including any evaluations that are in process. Both the BLM and the Forest Service ignore this directive and move forward with their Environmental Assessment of WNF without considering global climate impact. (Aug 2016)
* Documents produced by WNF and the BLM that consent to allow fracking in WNF might as well have been written by oil and gas lobbyists. These documents are poorly prepared and insufficient in that they do not account for the imminent threat that fracking poses, both locally and globally. More importantly, these documents stand in direct violation of standards established in the National Environmental Policy Act.
* An overwhelming amount of public input and official comments have been submitted at countless points throughout the process, even though it has never officially been solicited. Never has there been a sense that any of the input of concerned citizens is being genuinely considered by the decision-makers who must serve the public.
* We demand Kathleen Atkinson immediately withdraw consent to allow fracking in the Wayne National Forest. We demand she pull the parcels set for auction on December 13.
* As our voices have been ignored up to this point, we are forced to take action to stop fracking in the Wayne National Forest. We take the fight to the doorstep of the public officials who have repeatedly let us down.
For up to the minute information regarding Appalachia Resist, follow up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/appalachiaresist or on twitter @resistfracking.
Nothing can be f’ing done to stop the BLM from auctioning the Wayne to the Frackers.
Activists have repeatedly shut down live auctions as a last resort when the BLM has once again ignored thousands of comments and formal protests to parcels of public land being auctioned off for fracking. BLM has now moved the auctions online and it is illegal to even attempt to shut them down.
Online lease auction notices contain threatening language for any would-be disruptors: “You will also acknowledge that you understand it is a crime under 30 U.S.C 195 (a) and (b) to organize or participate in any scheme to defeat provisions of the mineral leasing regulations. Any person who knowingly violates this provision will be punished by a fine of not more than $500,000 imprisonment for not more than 5 years or both. The BLM’s language here is so undeniably vague that being an environmental activist is no longer legal.
The bureau of land management has moved oil and gas lease auctions online in an effort to squash public input and remove transparency from the sale of public lands. The BLM held its first online auction on September 20th, 2016. Environmental activists are looking for ways to continue to break through and allow their voices to be heard. Despite the BLM’s best efforts to collude with oil and gas in an effort to continue to push us into a climate catastrophe, and despite the BLM’s best efforts to hide from the public’s demand to protect public land from degradation, activists will continue fighting the good fight and flexing our political might, we need new ways to fight all BLM auctions of our public lands. But be warned – even having this conversation is now a crime.
Wayne Lease Sale Action Alert: Take the Phone Call Pledge!
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has published a final Environmental Assessment (EA) and a FONSI (“Finding of No Significant Impact”[!!]) and announced an online lease auction for Dec. 13 of 1600 acres of Wayne National Forest land for fracking, the first 33 parcels of many planned to be auctioned. Leases can be sold for as little as $2/acre!
Fracking will threaten climate and the drinking water supplies of millions of Ohio River residents as well as add to regional air pollution and turn our Forest into an industrial zone. By federal law (the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA), potentially significant impacts must be fully evaluated with up-to-date science. This has NOT been done.
The Wayne is Ohio’s only National Forest and one of the nation’s smallest and most fragmented, surrounding many Appalachian communities and rural homes like jigsaw puzzle pieces. Several parcels slated for sale are adjacent to the Little Muskingum River, in the Ohio River watershed, which provides drinking water to over 5 million people downstream.
U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson CAN SAY NO and pull the parcels and her consent to the BLM to lease. Other foresters have done so.
Please call Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson (414-297-3765)
every weekday from now until Dec. 13.
Please choose a time (based on your birthday if that works)
and start calling every day at that time.
Let’s keep her phone lines ringing!
Tell her to pull the parcels and withdraw consent!
* I oppose fracking on or under Wayne National Forest and call on you, Kathleen Atkinson, to withdraw Forest Service consent and all Wayne parcels from the December 13, 2016 lease sale.
* Other National Forest Supervisors and Regional Directors have pulled parcels or withdrawn consent and required an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). You can do this.
* There is no law requiring USFS or BLM to lease public minerals just because there is an “expression of interest.”
* Do not jeopardize the drinking water of millions, our climate, air, and communities’ health.
* The 1994 Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice and the August 2016 Presidential Guidance on agency consideration of climate impacts both support you saying NO to opening the Wayne to fracking.
* You have the power to say no. I urge you to do what’s ethical and legally within your power. You can and must say NO to fracking the Wayne.