Green Groups and Local Citizens Oppose Wayne National Forest Coal Lease
Jun06

Green Groups and Local Citizens Oppose Wayne National Forest Coal Lease

For Immediate Release: On Tuesday, the Buckeye Forest Council was joined by five state and national environmental groups in filing formal comments with the Wayne National Forest (WNF) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) opposing the agencies’ plan to lease 432.54 acres of federal coal for underground room and pillar mining.  The joint comments were initiated by the Buckeye Forest Council and co-signed by Earthjustice, Sierra Club, Ohio Environmental Council, Heartwood, and the Center for Biological Diversity. According to Nathan Johnson, staff attorney for the Buckeye Forest Council, “the Wayne’s proposed coal lease will contribute significantly to several environmental problems facing Southeastern Ohio and the nation, including climate change, toxic air pollution, coal ash waste contamination, and impacts to endangered species.” Figures provided by WNF and BLM reveal that, if mined and combusted in power plants, the coal at issue would be responsible for 22.6 times the total annual greenhouse gas emissions generated from all sources in Athens County. “As we have reached 400 ppm of CO2, the federal government above all else should address greenhouse gas emissions in all of its proposed actions. As a resident of Athens County, I do not support the increase of CO2 emissions that this action will allow along with its complex impacts on environment, endangered species and human health,” said Loraine McCosker, co-chair of the Forest and Public Lands committee of the Ohio Sierra Club The comments filed by the green groups point out that the WNF and BLM are legally required to conduct an in-depth study of the project, called an environmental impact statement or “EIS”, before deciding whether to proceed with coal leasing.  “As of today, the Wayne and BLM have only conducted a preliminary analysis of the potential impacts of the coal project.  Unfortunately, their assessment greatly underestimates the climate change significance of the project and completely fails to address significant air and water pollution impacts,” said Johnson.  “Federal law clearly requires the agencies to undertake a more in-depth study,” added Johnson. The green groups’ comments note that the WNF and BLM give no consideration to the project’s potential contributions to coal ash waste problems.Coal combustion waste, or “coal ash,” contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals and pollutants known to cause cancer, birth defects, reproductive disorders, neurological damage, learning disabilities, kidney disease, and diabetes.  Coal ash is the second largest industrial waste stream in the United States.  In Ohio and across the nation, coal ash is stored in large dams or impoundments. Coal ash impoundments are considered by the USEPA to be significant contributors to water contamination, as they may readily leach or migrate into the water supplied for household and agricultural use. Ohio...

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