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Good News Alert: A Huge Win for Ohio’s National Forest!

Good News Alert: A Huge Win for Ohio’s National Forest!
With
all the troubling news recently about the coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s been easy
for good news to get lost in the fray. That’s why I couldn’t wait to
tell you that we just achieved one of the most significant conservation
victories in Ohio history! 

The
OEC just won its three-year legal battle to protect the Wayne National Forest,
Ohio’s only national forest located in Southeast Ohio, by stopping fracking in
its tracks.

Last
Friday, a federal
judge ruled that federal agencies failed to consider threats
to public
health, endangered species, and watersheds before trying to lease out forest
areas for oil and gas development. For the time being, this ruling stops
fracking in the Wayne. And since it requires the agencies to go back to the
drawing board, it may stop fracking in the Wayne for many years to
come!

This
victory for Ohio’s environment sets a key precedent emphasizing the fact that
federal agencies must consider the impacts of
fracking.

Keeping
fracking out of the Wayne is crucial. Oil and gas development would disrupt
Ohio’s only national forest with roads, well pads, and gas lines, which would
destroy endangered Indiana bat habitat, scar the forest, and threaten to pollute
watersheds that support millions of
people.

Plus,
this is a huge win — literally. For context, the 40,000 acres covered by this
ruling is larger than Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio’s only national park)
and measures approximately the size of 30,303 football fields! That’s
how much public forest we just saved from oil and gas
development!

The
OEC brought this lawsuit in May 2017 along with conservation groups including
the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, and Heartwood. We
couldn’t have achieved this
victory
without our legal team, our partners, and without the help of
frontline communities in Southeast Ohio, as well as all of you. Thank you for
your support!

The
threats to our natural spaces are many, and there is much work to do. So, as we
celebrate, let’s keep an eye toward the future of the Wayne. Chief among the
immediate threats: the federal government is targeting the Wayne for a massive
logging increase. We
can’t let this happen!
Join the movement to protect YOUR national forest!
Preserving
the Wayne not only promises us the grandeur and beauty of undisturbed
wilderness, it also benefits our climate. Allowing our forests to grow old is
the most effective, immediate, and low-cost nature-based approach to fighting
climate change. We need your help to amplify the call for large-scale
preservation in Ohio’s only national
forest.

The
deadline for public comment is March 23rd — and you can take action
today
from your own home.
This comment opportunity and the handful
to follow will determine much of the Wayne’s fate for the next 15 to 25
years.

This
is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a
difference
. Join the movement!

 

For the forest,

Nathan Johnson
Director of Public Lands

 

Source: OEC email

By:  Nathan Johnson

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Press Release:

Court Stalls Fracking Leases in Ohio’s Only National Forest

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Contacts:
Wendy Park, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7138, wpark@biologicaldiversity.org
Emily Bacha, Ohio Environmental Council, (216) 533-8637, ebacha@theoec.org
Jonathon Berman, Sierra Club, (202) 495-3033, jonathon.berman@sierraclub.org

COLUMBUS, Ohio― A federal judge today stalled oil and gas leasing in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest, ruling that the Trump administration failed to consider threats to public health, endangered species and watersheds before opening more than 40,000 acres of the forest for fracking.

U.S. District Judge Michael Watson said the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Land Management “demonstrated a disregard for the different types of impacts caused by fracking in the Forest. The agencies made decisions premised on a faulty foundation.” Watson’s ruling requires the agencies to redo their environmental analysis of the potential harms from fracking in the Wayne.

“We’re thrilled the court is requiring the Trump administration to examine fracking’s serious threats to our air, water and forest wildlife,” said Wendy Park, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Fracking is a dirty, dangerous business. This ruling helps ensure the health of this spectacular forest and its endangered animals and protects the water source for millions of people.”

In May 2017 conservation groups sued the Forest Service and the BLM over plans to permit fracking in the Wayne, saying federal officials had relied on an outdated plan and ignored significant environmental threats before approving fracking in the forest. The lawsuit also aimed to void two BLM lease sales. The court will decide later whether to void those existing leases, but a planned March sale will likely be postponed.

In today’s ruling the judge said the agencies ignored potential harm from fracking to endangered Indiana bats, the waters of the Little Muskingum River and the region’s air quality.

“This is a huge win for people, for wildlife and for the forest,” said Nathan Johnson, attorney and public lands director for the Ohio Environmental Council. “This effort dates back to at least 2011, when southeast Ohio communities came together to oppose fracking in the Wayne. Today’s ruling is a culmination of citizen effort and it reaffirms that federal agencies must consider the environmental impacts of oil and gas development.”

The BLM’s leasing plan would industrialize Ohio’s only national forest with roads, well pads and gas lines, the lawsuit asserts. This would destroy Indiana bat habitat, pollute watersheds and water supplies that support millions of people, and would endanger other federally protected species in the area.

“Today’s victory is a result of the tireless efforts from communities across southeast Ohio,” said Elly Benson, attorney for the Sierra Club. “We applaud this decision that will help protect the Wayne National Forest from fracking, allowing Ohioans ― and people from all over ― to continue to enjoy and explore the forest.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) is the state’s most comprehensive, effective and respected environmental advocate for a healthier, more sustainable Ohio. The OEC develops and ensures the implementation of forward-thinking, science-based, pragmatic solutions to secure healthy air, land and water for all who call Ohio home. Learn more at www.theoec.org.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.8 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

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