Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 14, 2017


Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 300-2414, 
Nathan Johnson, Ohio Environmental Council, (614) 487-5841,
Jonathon Berman, (202) 495-3033,
Tabitha Tripp, Heartwood, 812-307-4326,

New Protest Escalates Ohio Fracking Fight

Federal Government Shrugs Off Threat to Climate, Groundwater, Wildlife Habitat in Wayne National Forest

ATHENS, Ohio— Conservation groups this week filed an administrative protest challenging a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction slated for Ohio's Wayne National Forest. The protest takes aim at the Bureau's refusal to adequately analyze the impacts of fracking on climate change, water quality and endangered species.

“Our protest challenges the Bureau's disturbing practice of favoring fracking industry interests over clean water, wildlife and human health,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “With each new federal fossil fuel lease, the Trump administration pushes us closer to climate disaster.”

The protest charges that the plan to allow hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” on 1,186 acres of Wayne would degrade streams and groundwater, fragment wildlife habitat and worsen climate change. The federal auction is scheduled for March 23.

The groups also note that the federal environmental assessment for the lease auction failed to fully disclose fracking's effects on the national forest. That's because the government failed to study the increased surface disturbance, habitat fragmentation, and water-pollution impacts of opening up adjacent privately owned areas to oil industry development.

“The Wayne National Forest is owned by all Americans, and it's a special place that deserves protection,” said Nathan Johnson, an attorney with the Ohio Environmental Council. “Tens of thousands of citizens are demanding a halt to fracking in the Wayne. The public doesn't want to see pipelines tearing up this forest, and we don't want fracking chemicals staining its streams. This fight is about holding the federal government accountable to both the law and the will of the people.”

The protest follows a November filing by the groups that raised similar concerns about a December oil and gas lease auction in Wayne National Forest. In January the groups filed a notice of intent to sue the Bureau and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to consider the impacts of fracking in conjunction with white-nose syndrome and climate change effects on the endangered Indiana bat and other protected species threatened with extinction in the area.

“The proposed Wayne National Forest leasing in Appalachia Ohio continues the extraction paradigm of centuries past,” said Loraine McCosker of the Ohio Sierra Club. “The legacy of this past extraction continues to negatively impact southeast Ohio economies. There are clean-energy and local business initiatives that this proposal will threaten. We simply must demand that the Wayne not be leased by the BLM and that the Forest Service withdraw these parcels for leasing.”

The protest also states that the Bureau failed to adequately address the potential impacts from the proposed oil and gas leasing on species that are federally designated as threatened or endangered with extinction, including the Indiana bat, fanshell, pink mucket pearly mussel, sheepnose mussel and snuffbox mussel.

Groups joining the protest are the Center for Biological Diversity, Heartwood, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Ohio Sierra Club, Athens County Fracking Action Network and Buckeye Environmental Network.

Download this week's protest here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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