Grand River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers

Natural gas drilling threatens clean water

May 15th, 2012

Jessie Thomas-Blate, American Rivers, (202) 347-7550
Trent Dougherty, Ohio Environmental Council, (614) 487-7506
Nathan Johnson, Buckeye Forest Council, (614) 487-9290

Washington, D.C. – American Rivers named the Grand River among America’s Most Endangered Rivers® today, shining a national spotlight on the threat natural gas drilling poses to clean water, recreation, and wildlife. 

“The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report is a call to action to save rivers that are facing a critical tipping point,” said Jessie Thomas-Blate of American Rivers. “We all need healthy rivers for our drinking water, health, economy, and quality of life. We hope citizens will join us to ensure a clean, healthy Grand River for generations to come.”

Natural gas development using a process called ‘fracking’ comes with serious risks, including threats to human health, water contamination, air contamination, sedimentation, impacts to livestock, and more.  Ohio is not only developing its natural gas resources, but the state has also become a destination for contaminated fracking wastewater from other states. Ohio officials recently acknowledged that earthquakes were caused by the underground disposal of fracking wastewater, which can contain harmful carcinogenic compounds.  So far, two permits for production wells have been issued less than 1,500 feet from a Grand River tributary, and approximately 12 permits for fracking wastewater disposal wells have been approved in the basin.

American Rivers and its partners called on the State of Ohio to strengthen safeguards to ensure natural gas development and the disposal of wastewater does not harm the river, its clean water, and local communities.

“The Grand River is the jewel of the Lake Erie Basin.  The Heart of Steelhead Alley.  And now, it is the focal point of fracking and waste injection in Ohio,” said Trent Dougherty, Director of Legal Affairs for the Ohio Environmental Council.

“This unconventional drilling involves the use of hundreds of different chemical additives and the disposal of literally billions of gallons of toxic-tainted wastewater from Ohio and neighboring Pennsylvania oil and gas wells. Ohio is outdriving its headlights when it comes to identifying and controlling the risks of the shale gas boom,” Dougherty added. “To protect Ohio’s Gasland communities in the Grand River Watershed, the state needs to modernize its regulations over the water quality risks from drilling to disposal of fracking waste.”

“There is a lot of room for improvement in Ohio’s oil and gas laws.  Tightening the state’s standards is necessary to ensure that toxic wastes associated with fracking stay out of our waterways and groundwater,” said Nathan Johnson, Staff Attorney for The Buckeye Forest Council.  “Examples of holes in the legal system include the fact that wastewater storage pits are not required to be fenced in most of the state, as well as the fact that the state allows toxic wastewater to be sprayed on roads for dust and ice control,” Johnson added.

A State Wild and Scenic River, the Grand is a haven for rare birds and other wildlife and boasts the best water quality of any stream flowing into Lake Erie.

Now in its 27th year, the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report is a list of rivers at a crossroads, where key decisions in the coming months will determine the rivers’ fates. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers® of 2012:
#1: Potomac River (MD, VA, PA, WV, DC)
Threat: Pollution
At risk: Clean water and public health

#2: Green River (WY, UT, CO)
Threat: Water withdrawals
At risk: Recreation opportunities and fish and wildlife habitat

#3: Chattahoochee River (GA)
Threat: New dams and reservoirs
At risk: Clean water and healthy fisheries

#4: Missouri River (IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, NE, ND, SD, WY)
Threat: Outdated flood management
At risk: Public safety

#5: Hoback River (WY)
Threat: Natural gas development
At stake: Clean water and world-class fish and wildlife

#6: Grand River (OH)
Threat: Natural gas development
At risk: Clean water and public health

#7: South Fork Skykomish River (WA)
Threat: New dam
At risk: Habitat and recreation

#8: Crystal River (CO)
Threat: Dams and water diversions
At risk: Fish, wildlife, and recreation

#9: Coal River (WV)
Threat: Mountaintop removal coal mining
At risk: Clean water and public health

#10: Kansas River (KS)
Threat: Sand and gravel dredging
At risk: Public health and wildlife habitat


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About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.