NO CONSENT to Fracking in the Wayne
This petition had 1,128 supporters
On September 10th, the United States Forest Service and Ohio University will be hosting an invitation only “Community Cadre” in Grover Center from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to create the appearance of a conversation around extraction in the Wayne National Forest. While we are completely supportive of the inclusion of community groups in the U.S. Forest Service’s decision-making process, we believe that sitting down with the oil and gas industry is not in the best interests of our community. We have just learned that the USFS planned all along to give consent to lease and is not reviewing the Bureau of Land Management’s Environmental Assessment (EA) or the hundreds of comments submitted by our community on the Draft EA. According to a recording of the comments provided by the BLM, approximately 2,000 people publicly commented against fracking in the Wayne National Forest during the January 2016 comment period. If the USFS was interested in being responsive to the community comments, it would heed the clear call of the vast majority of people in this region: No fracking on public lands. We call on the USFS to halt the planned out-of-state auction of our public lands to fracking companies. Unless the USFS representatives are taken to task, and unless oil and gas interests are roundly rejected, this "Community Cadre" only serves to help the USFS make a mockery of actual democratic processes and real community engagement.
It's no surprise that Southeast Ohioans have been standing up to oil and gas interests in our region, through overwhelming public comments and standing room only participation in public meetings. We have become the dumping ground of the fracking industry: in 2015, Athens alone took 4 million barrels, and Washington county received 2.2 million barrels of fracking waste, mostly from other states, and injected it into our county; the Forest Service is currently undertaking a process to lease tracts of land in the Wayne National Forest for fracking. These practices endanger thousands of our community members, and will decisively destroy significant portions of our public forest. A peer reviewed analysis of the current research of fracking’s impact publish in April found “that at least 685 papers have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that are relevant to assessing the impacts of UNGD [fracking]. 84% of public health studies contain findings that indicate public health hazards, elevated risks, or adverse health outcomes; 69% of water quality studies contain findings that indicate potential, positive association, or actual incidence of water contamination; and 87% of air quality studies contain findings that indicate elevated air pollutant emissions and/or atmospheric concentrations.”
We are calling on the Athens community leaders who have been invited to this event to remember us and to stand up to Big Oil and Gas. Remember your community members who are living in some of the most economically and politically disenfranchised counties in the state. Remember your organization’s goals: a sustainable, healthy and secure community. What place does oil and gas have in such goals? Gifford Pinchot, first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the mission of the Forest Service: "to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run." Short term profit followed by environmental destruction and economic devastation is, and has always been, the legacy of oil, gas, and coal in Southeast Ohio. There has also been a Presidential Directive, published last month, which calls on government agencies to consider climate in any significant decisions. The Wayne is choosing not to follow this directive.
Athenians, and Ohioans across the state, have already made it abundantly clear through sweeping public comments, protest, and participation in the public process, that we do not consent to our own exploitation. In the face of climate change and a legacy of extraction, we will stand up against industry interests. We propose that the planned "Community Cadre" become instead an open space for widespread community engagement, and invite any and all to join us on September 10th, at 12 p.m. in the Grover Center Atrium on Ohio University's Main Campus..
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Appalachian Ohio Group of the Sierra Club
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