Wayne Coal Lease Decision Appealed
Nov07

Wayne Coal Lease Decision Appealed

For Immediate Release: November 5, 2013 Contact: Nathan Johnson, Staff Attorney, Buckeye Forest Council 614-949-6622 (Cell), Nathan@buckeyeforestcouncil.org Wayne Coal Lease Decision Appealed (Columbus, Ohio) – On Monday (Nov. 4), the Buckeye Forest Council (BFC) appealed a decision by Wayne National Forest (WNF) administration to approve a 433-acre coal lease sale in the forest. BFC was joined in its appeal by the Ohio Environmental Council, Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, Heartwood, and the Sierra Club. The WNF coal would be subject to underground room and pillar mining and would likely be combusted in electricity-generating coal plants. BFC and its partners argue that WNF officials illegally ignored pollution and climate change impacts associated with the coal lease. “The air, water, and climate change pollution resulting from this project would be substantial. When burned, the WNF coal’s greenhouse gas emissions would roughly equal the annual emissions from 622,359 passenger vehicles,” said Nathan Johnson, attorney for appellant BFC. See WNF Environmental Assessment, page 40 (“Approximately 2,987,322 metric tons CO2e would be generated from the burning of the coal to produce electricity.”); available at: http://bit.ly/186mJvO; USEPA, “Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator,” http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-resources/calculator.html (last viewed Oct. 30, 2013). “Forest Service figures and USEPA calculations suggest that Wayne National Forest as a whole would have to sequester carbon for over ten years just to account for the greenhouse gases from this single project,” added Johnson. “WNF officials nevertheless concluded that the GHG emissions from this lease would be insignificant. They are plainly mistaken.” Ironically, a stated objective of the US Forest Service is to “lead efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.” (USDA, Forest Service Strategic Plan for FY 2010 – 2015: Objective 2.2; available at: http://www.ocfo.usda.gov/usdasp/sp2010/sp2010.pdf). The appellants charge that Wayne officials also refused to look at acid rain, smog, mercury contamination, and water contamination effects that would likely result from the project. “Forest Service dropped the ball by writing off the many benefits of keeping this coal in the ground. If the lease is denied, this specific coal will not be extracted, its carbon not released into the atmosphere, its mercury not deposited in streams to bioaccumulate, nor its particulates inhaled by at-risk populations near power plants who are already prone to asthma and death from poor air quality,” said Johnson. BFC and its partners are troubled by the Forest Service’s refusal to consider impacts associated with coal ash, the second largest industrial waste stream in the United States. Ohio has some of the worst coal waste regulations in the nation. Ohio regulations fail to require all new and existing coal ash ponds and landfills to monitor groundwater or install composite liners, nor does...

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