Buckeye Environmental Network (BEN), formerly Buckeye Forest Council (BFC), works to support grassroots environmental and environmental justice organizing and to protect Ohio's native forests. Working with grassroots community groups, we provide activists the tools and support needed to mobilize their communities for effective action against the harms caused by corporate assaults, aided as these assaults are by state and federal government agencies. We foster public pressure on government and corporations to protect communities and Ohio’s environment. Through community action and ecological protection, we seek fundamental changes that improve our relationships with each other and the land.
As Buckeye Forest Council and now BEN, we have worked for almost 25 years protecting Ohio’s native public forests, influencing policies and practices of our state and federal governments through grassroots organizing, media campaigns, and legal efforts. With the onslaught of deep-shale drilling and horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Ohio and escalating impacts on human and environmental health, we have expanded our focus beyond public forests to address these broader threats to human and environmental health. Our goal is to support clean energy solutions, forest protection, and climate stability by engaging and empowering citizens to create a voice in public discourse and the media for more protective policies and to influence decision makers to implement these policies.
Our new name reflects well our interest and work in supporting grassroots environmental and environmental justice organizing. As BEN, we will continue BFC’s long efforts to watchdog federal and state agencies entrusted with protecting our forests, air, and water.
Throughout 2016 and 2017, BEN will be the lead community partner in a collaboration with Ohio University hydrologists, Athens County Fracking Action Network, and Torch Can Do! to support water testing around the K&H and Atha injection wells in eastern Athens County. Teresa will be teaching community members to navigate scientific data, retrieve critical information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and to act as watchdogs of government regulatory agencies. This project is supported by the Sugarbush Foundation.
Teresa has been appointed to the steering committee of the International People's Tribunal on Fracking, which will be held in Oregon in October 2018. BEN will sponsor an Ohio People's Tribunal next spring. The tribunals will record accounts from individuals on the front lines of fracking, and how extraction has affected their communities and their health.
We are currently working to fight fracking in Wayne National Forest, Ohio's only national forest. Parcels were sold in December 2016, and a second auction will be held in March 2017. Visit our blog for more information.
Buckeye Environmental Network (BEN), formerly Buckeye Forest Council (BFC), is a 501(c)(3) organization serving community and grassroots environmental groups across the State of Ohio. BEN has distinguished itself in providing community organizations with technical assistance and advice on how to conduct effective grassroots campaigns. BEN has fought for almost twenty-five years against exploitation of our native public forests by corporate interests, including stopping logging on Wayne National Forest for ten years, helping achieve an end to commercial logging on Mohican State Forest, and preventing longwall mining under Dysart Woods, one of Ohio’s few old-growth remnants. BFC led publicity efforts upon release of the Heartwood-commissioned An Economic Analysis of the 2006 Wayne National Forest Plan,” by GreenFire Consulting Group, LLC, and, after the 3000-acre wildfire in the Shawnee State Forest in April 2009 that followed escape of a DOF prescribed burn on a day of extreme fire danger. Our grassroots collaborative efforts resulted in publicity on the financial incentives behind DOF’s prescribed burning program and the mismanagement of the burn that led to this devastation.
In recent years, BFC/BEN has supported grassroots efforts to end commercial logging on Shawnee State Forest and expand the Wilderness Area there. We helped fight biomass-burning electric utility applications at PUCO and contributed important analysis that helped halt First Energy’s proposed conversion of its Burger power plant from coal to tree-burning. In 2015, we helped generate grassroots opposition to Wayne National Forest’s ill-founded Buckeye “habitat improvement”[sic] project, resulting in the Wayne’s abandonment of the project, a great victory for watchdogging and statewide collaboration.
Communities around the state have been grateful to BEN for taking on fracking in 2011 when it first emerged as an environmental and public health issue in Ohio. In spring, 2011, under BFC’s leadership of grassroots opposition, fracking was fought in the Ohio state legislature after the Kasich government pushed to open state parks, state forests, and public university lands to fracking.
BFC took on fracking not only due to its threats to Ohio’s public forests and parks but also because if this extreme carbon fuel industry isn’t stopped, our forests as well as our planet will be destroyed. Fracking’s high methane and CO2 emission rates threaten climate. Fracking and associated industrial development for production and transportation also directly impact forests with fragmentation, water contamination, and air pollution. These severe impacts as well as the severe impacts on human, environmental and economic health from air and water pollution, water consumption, and waste production, transportation, and “disposal” make fracking and its associated industrial development the most urgent environmental crisis our state and nation may have ever faced.
BFC/BEN seeks an end to deep-shale drilling and high-volume horizontal fracturing (fracking), because it is inherently and irrevocably dirty, dangerous, and destructive of climate, land, and water as well as of communities’ economies, health, and well being.
Activists and community leaders around eastern Ohio have depended on BFC for organizing support, data, technical information, and watchdogging of ODNR, known for lax regulation and enforcement, as Teresa Mills, as BEN’s fracking coordinator, has done since 2011. We often work one-to-one with fledgling activists, supporting their outreach to activate others and linking them with other activists around the region.
In 2011, BFC also initiated legal efforts to fight leasing of Wayne National Forest land for fracking. BFC’s legal comments were used by elected officials and community leaders in Athens County as the basis for a burgeoning grassroots effort to stop the sale of National Forest land to frackers. The effort led to parcels slated for the December 2011 sale being pulled from the auction by Wayne Forest Supervisor Anne Carey in Nov. 2011. In 2012, BFC led a coalition effort of national and state organizations calling for a full evaluation of fracking impacts, as required by federal law.
When the threat of Wayne fracking re-emerged in 2015, BFC helped organize an outpouring of public opposition at Forest Service/Bureau of Land Management (USFS/BLM) “open houses” and in meetings with Forest Service personnel. With the federal agencies’ recent decision to ignore both the widespread public concern and ample evidence of fracking’s severe threat to drinking water supplies, BEN will continue to support efforts to prevent fracking in the Wayne.