The lease date has been announced, and it looks like (despite an outpouring of opposition from our community), our public Wayne National Forest will be auctioned off for fracking AGAIN in March. Right now, things feel pretty bleak for Marietta, Athens, and Ironton.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
The Bureau of Land Management and the oil & gas companies think Appalachia doesn’t matter. Because we’re rural, and underrepresented, and underserved, they think that fracking in Appalachia will have a lower impact. What if we wanted to frack in their backyards? Near their children’s schools? Where the only “job opportunities” were to transport toxic slime on public roads? Where the only health benefits were cancer? I dare them to drink the water, to eat food grown in polluted soil, to breathe air laced with methane, and then tell us that there will be “little to no significant impact.”
State-sanctioned forms of protest, in a state that clearly prioritizes capital over people, are meant to be a distraction. Including petitions, the people of Appalachian Ohio and their allies across the state and country submitted nearly 95,000 comments last year to the BLM, in formal protest of the proposed auction. The average amount of comments on an Environmental Assessment is closer to 5,000. And yet they will still continue to frack. This proves that they never intended to take into actual consideration the input of those who will be most impacted by fracking in the Wayne. If they did, 95,000 comments should have been enough for them to stop and say, “well, y’all seem pretty upset, maybe we should take some more time, invite in some scientists, and do a more in-depth Environmental Assessment.” Instead, they moved on with the auctions.
So, what now? A lot of folks have been showing up for Standing Rock by traveling there on weekends and holidays, or raising money for supplies, or donating to the legal fund. But we aren’t going to truly stop what’s happening at Standing Rock until we break the whole fucking system that allowed it to happen in the first place. Every one of us has a battle to fight where we are, in our communities, with our people. Here, in southeast Ohio, we are united and we will resist. Rise up, Appalachia!