BLM displays shortsighted attitude on forest

In response to the BLM’s recent “Finding of no significant impact” related to the leasing of 18,494 acres in the Wayne National Forest’s Marietta Unit for deep shale oil and gas drilling: there are many of us absolutely appalled at this short-sighted assessment. There are so many ominous – not to mention, scientifically proven – down sides to this. The first real issue is water, on both ends of this potential fracking disaster.

First: it takes about 4,000,000 gallons of fresh water to frack just one well. Fact. I attended the BLM so-called presentation at Marietta College back in March. I asked every agent there, “So. My first question is, where is all the fresh water to frack going to come from?” Not one could answer my question. One man did say ‘the water source was up to each individual driller.” There are no guidelines on this issue. Read: Open season on our water … for free!

According to Terry Smith of the Athens News, there have, so far, been 50 individual expressions of interest in the Marietta Unit. If each one of those drillers frack even one well each, that is – let me get my calculator – 200,000,000 gallons of fresh, potable water. Taken from where? Wherever the hell a driller wants to get it. You can bet they won’t use a public utility spigot. Then on the back side, where is all that now-radioactive, toxic, contaminated waste water going to GO? It will be injected back into the earth, under great pressure in injection wells, where? We know. In Marietta’s injection wells up in Harmar, in Devola, Veto, and Waterford, among others, and down in Torch and Coolville. 200,000,000 gallons. Read that again. When that water perks back up everywhere – and you may be assured that sooner or later, it will – does anyone really think the water departments can ever provide safe drinking water again? Not to mention all the private water wells in our area. One other note: SE Ohio has no geological surveys of our aquifers. None.

The next issue is – if we don’t speak out and fracking the fracking the Wayne flies, transportation on each end of the spectrum will mean hundreds of water trucks delivering fresh water through the forest and hundreds of brine trucks taking all that contaminated water back out to the injection wells. I am not even going to mention the earthquake probabilities. (There is a known fault line between Marietta and Belpre).

Then there is transportation of the gas itself: pipelines. All over the damn place with eminent domain taking of private properties for – hah – the oil and gas industry. I am still mad as hell about the PA judge that ordered the generations-old maple syrup farm to be cut down for eminent domain without the whole pipeline being permitted … and then Gov. Cuomo of New York stopped the whole thing on the other end. What a despicable overreach of one government official, and such a horrible waste.

No people: we need to act now. The open comment period is open until May 29. Email comments to blm_es_comments@blm.gov; faxed to 414-297-4409, att: Kurt Wadsinski; or mailed to BLM Northeastern States District, Att: Kurt Wadzinski, Planning and Environmental Coordinator, 626 E. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 200, Milwaukee, Wis. 53202-4617. Don’t let them do this to us. The time to care is now.

Loran Conley lives in Little Hocking.