Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 1, 2018

Contact:  David Miller, Ohio Environmental Council, (614) 487-7506,
Jonathon Berman, Sierra Club, (202) 459-3033,    
Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 300-2414,

Motion Challenges Fracked-gas Pipeline Threatening Ohio's Only National Forest

COLUMBUS, Ohio— Conservation groups are challenging a fracked-gas pipeline that would slash through Ohio’s Wayne National Forest, threatening forests, waterways, wildlife and thousands of people who visit the area. The project is owned by TransCanada Corp., which was responsible for a massive oil spill when its Keystone pipeline broke last fall.

The Ohio Environmental Council, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity on Monday filed a motion to intervene in a federal permitting process for the Buckeye Xpress pipeline in southern Ohio. The proposed 66-mile fracked-gas pipeline would cut through Ohio’s only national forest and cross 336 streams and 134 acres of wetlands. Building this pipeline through the Wayne would also increase pressure for more fracking leases in the national forest.

“If approved, the project will only further incentivize the expansion of oil and gas development in the Wayne National Forest,” said Chris Tavenor, an attorney at the Ohio Environmental Council. “Last year the OEC and its partners sued BLM because of the immense environmental damages that will occur if the Wayne is fragmented for oil and gas lease sales. The Wayne is Ohio's only national forest, and federal agencies need to recognize the importance of these ecological treasures beyond their potential for pipelines and well pads.”

Columbia Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., is applying for a permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build the pipeline from its Leach Xpress pipeline south through the Wayne National Forest and across the Ohio River to West Virginia. It would expand and replace an existing pipeline and dig up 225 acres as it crosses 12 miles of the Wayne National Forest’s Ironton unit. 

“There’s no such thing as a safe fracked gas pipeline, just like there’s no such thing as a safe fracking operation,” said Cheryl Johncox with the Sierra Club. “The Buckeye Xpress pipeline will threaten communities, Ohioans’ only national forest, and waterways while encouraging even more fracking operations. It must be halted.”

Pipeline construction would conflict with the Wayne National Forest’s land and resource management plan, which limits utility corridors to 50 acres while encouraging more fracking leases in the forest. Eclipse Resources Corp., which purchased approximately 60 percent of the leases available when the Wayne first began leasing its land for oil and gas development, has contracted with Columbia for transportation of its fracked gas.

“New pipelines mean more deadly explosions, leaks and fracking pollution,” said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This would leave a gaping wound in the Wayne, which people treasure for its clean streams and wild forests. A pipeline would be an insult to this beautiful place and a threat to public health and wildlife.” 

The Buckeye Xpress pipeline comes as the region is still reeling from gas-pipeline explosions, fires and spills over the past year, including Rover Pipeline’s 2 million gallon spill in a wetland along the Tuscarawas River and a massive explosion of the Seneca Lateral Pipeline in Noble County in January.

More than 400,000 gallons of oil spilled from TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline in South Dakota in November. In October a worker was killed in an explosion at a Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline metering station in Stark County, Ohio.

The Bureau of Land Management has auctioned off more than 2,300 acres of the Wayne National Forest since it opened 40,000 acres to fracking leases in 2016.  Conservation groups have sued the BLM and U.S. Forest Service because the agencies failed to analyze and disclose fracking’s damage to forests, streams, public health, the climate and endangered species.

Wayne National Forest

Wayne National Forest. Photo by Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity. Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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