Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 12, 2017

Contacts:  Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414,
David Miller, Ohio Environmental Council, (419) 944-1986,
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (202) 495-3051,

Legal Protest Targets New Fracking in Ohio's Wayne National Forest

Feds Abandon Environmental Review, Threatening People, Water, Forests, Wildlife

COLUMBUS, Ohio— Seven conservation groups today challenged a Bureau of Land Management decision approving a December auction of 350 acres in the Wayne National Forest for oil and gas fracking leases near the controversial Rover Pipeline.

The administrative protest challenges the BLM’s complete failure to assess any social or environmental impacts connected to the fracking in Ohio’s only national forest. Despite fracking threats to public health, water, forests, wildlife and endangered species, the agency approved the auction without conducting a new environmental review as required under the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act. 

“Ohioans love the Wayne for its beauty and its wildlife, and because it's a great place to play outdoors. Fracking threatens all of these important values,” said Nathan Johnson, public lands director with the Ohio Environmental Council. “We filed today's appeal to protect both the forest and the public's interest.”

The fracking industry has so far nominated about 18,000 acres of the Wayne National Forest’s Marietta Unit to be auctioned for oil and gas leasing. The BLM has leased 1,937 acres of the national forest to the fracking industry since December and plans to continue holding quarterly auctions until all 18,000 acres are leased. 

“Fracking would transform watersheds in Ohio’s only national forest into polluted industrial zones,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “These precious forests provide clean water, wildlife refuges and quiet recreation. They should be entirely off limits to polluting wells, pipelines and heavy truck traffic.”   

The Rover pipeline route cuts through the northeast corner of the Marietta Unit, within four miles of the lands to be auctioned. Gas from fracked wells in the national forest could feed into the pipeline, where construction has been plagued with numerous mishaps and spills, including a 2 million-gallon spill of drilling mud laced with diesel.

Conservation groups have protested every fracking lease sale on the Wayne National Forest. Earlier this year the groups sued the BLM and other federal agencies in U.S. District Court for the agencies’ failure to analyze threats to public health, water, endangered species and the climate before opening 40,000 acres of the Wayne to fracking.  

“Fracking in Wayne National Forest would be disastrous for Ohio's land, water and wildlife, all for the benefit of oil and gas executives,” said Jennifer Miller with Ohio Sierra Club. “Rather than permitting the destruction of our only national forest, we must protect our wild places and continue to fuel the transition to clean, renewable energy.”

If fracking moves forward in Wayne National Forest, fracking and drilling chemical spills could contaminate Ohio River tributaries, threatening the health of people and endangered species downstream. Massive clear-cutting for new wells, pipelines, roads and compressor stations will destroy and fragment forests. Fracking and its infrastructure will reverse decades of forest recovery, undermining the very purpose for which the Wayne National Forest was designated by Congress.

Conservation groups that are party to today’s protest are the Center for Biological Diversity, Athens County Fracking Action Network, Buckeye Environmental Network, Heartwood, Keep Wayne Wild, Ohio Environmental Council and the Sierra Club.

Download a copy today’s protest here.
Download a copy of the May lawsuit here.
Images of the Wayne National Forest are available for media use here.
Download a factsheet about Wayne National Forest fracking here.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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