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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Ohio considers opening 40,000 acres in Wayne National Forest to fracking

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Monday, April 8, 2024   

Ohio's Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments - and will answer questions in virtual sessions today and tomorrow, on a draft environmental assessment about the impacts of opening up 40,000 acres of Wayne National Forest to oil and gas leasing.

The lands are located primarily in Monroe, Noble and Washington counties.

Environmental advocates - like Roxanne Groff, a member of the Athens County's Future Action Network - said they don't believe the assessment fully captures the widespread loss of habitat or recreational opportunities fracking on public lands would unleash.

Groff said research shows fracking comes with serious environmental degradation and water contamination.

"We've got methane release, we've got toxic radioactive waste that has to be disposed of from the fracking extraction," said Groff. "We've got impacts to streams from water withdrawals, or possible contamination with spills."

The latest draft assessment comes after a federal court ruled in 2020 that an earlier version of the document did not consider potential impacts on federally protected species and waterways.

The Bureau says it's accepting public comments until May 6.

Randi Pokladnik, a member of Save Ohio Parks, said she's concerned about air pollution from fracking.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the process can release dangerous petroleum hydrocarbons into the air - and increase ground-level ozone, heightening residents' risk of developing asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

"People that live in areas, we know from peer-reviewed studies that are impacted by fracking," said Pokladnik, "have higher levels of radon in their basements."

Recent polling shows most Ohio residents are either strongly or somewhat opposed to fracking as a means to increase energy production in the state.





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