Ohio and Alabama Stand Up Against Fracking
By Katherine Boehrer
This week we are celebrating two big successes in Ohio and Alabama, where citizens worked together to protect their public lands and water from the dangers of fracking operations. The victories came after local groups and environmental organizations banded together to demand more public involvement in local decision making regarding shale gas drilling.
Thanks to a dedicated group of activists in Ohio, the Muskigum Watershed Conservancy Board announced that they would not be considering water sales for use in fracking operations until a study is completed by the USGS and the Board reviews its water sale policy.
After a recent sale of 11 million gallons to Gulfport Energy, the grassroots group Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save our Water enlisted the help of activists from Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club, the Buckeye Forest Council, the Ohio Environmental Council, and other grassroots groups to go before the board’s governing panel of judges, demanding more citizen participation in the water sale process and expressing their concern about the use of public water for fracking. After hearing what they had to say, the judges and the board expressed interest in having more public involvement in decision making in the future. Later that week, they made the announcement that they would halt water sales for use in fracking until more information is gathered.
In Alabama, the sale of 43,000 acres of land in the Talladega National Forest was also delayed due to broad public outcry.
Wild South, Friends of the Talladega National Forest, and local activists collected more than 7,000 signatures to show public disapproval of the sale. After a blog post and action alert was posted to our website, nearly 200 Food & Water Watch members signed letters in protest. The petition to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), along with local demonstrations and a formal letter of protest from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Southern Environmental Law Center, caused the BLM and Forest Service to change course. In addition to the delay, they now wish to solicit more public input on the issue.
Giving natural gas companies more access to our public lands and water is exactly what we don’t need. If communities are serious about banning fracking, they should also work to cut off the oil and gas industry’s access to these essential resources. Ready to take action? You can learn how to keep fracking out of your state by visiting our fracking action center.
Katherine Boehrer is a Food & Water Watch summer communications intern and a junior at Cornell University.