For Immediate Release

December 21, 2006

  Nelsonville , Ohio bypass would violated endangered species act

Contact: Chad Kister (740) 707-4110, (740) 753-3888,

            The proposed Nelsonville , Ohio bypass goes through prime endangered Indiana Bat habitat, grossly violating the Endangered Species Act for this animal that is in fast decline, and would cause massive destruction of Ohio ’s only national forest.

            By completely destroying more than 6 miles of streams and rivers, including Monday Creek and the Hocking River , and destroying 10-15 acres of wetlands, the project would devastate known habitat of the Indiana bat, in violation of law.

            The project, now listed as $170 million (up from $130 million), is a waste of public funds for an unnecessary highway through this rural area when people are increasingly driving less because of rising gas prices.

            Instead of this project, for a fraction of its cost, we could have passenger rail from Charleston, West Virginia to Toledo, Ohio, connecting to Amtrak there to go anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.  That rail line could go through Athens , Nelsonville and Columbus , and reduce traffic along route 33.

            Trains use up to 40 times less fuel per passenger mile than cars, and are a much nicer way to travel.  Media need to focus on the hidden costs of driving: trillions of public dollars spent on roads and highways, trillions of dollars spent on cars, billions in insurance and billions in gas.  The cost of passenger rail is a miniscule fraction of this, and saves people all the wasted time now spent driving.

            Our current transportation system uses 25 percent of the world’s oil production for 5 percent of its population, and it is a major burden on our economy.  It is also a large part of the reason that we emit 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

            By simply re-opening the option of passenger rail all over the country, and making on-time, luxurious yet affordable travel options, people will choose trains, as we see in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay area, and most of the rest of the world.

            Switching nearly all long-distance freight travel to trains, using trucks only for the last leg of the journey when necessary, we can save tremendously on the amount of gas used in the U.S., while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and traffic on highways.

            This also greatly reduces public expenditures to roads and highways, as rails are exponentially cheaper to maintain (and are nearly all in private hands today).

            The proposed bypass around Nelsonville would devastate a critical area between two of the largest collections of public lands in Ohio .  It is an important wildlife corridor for threatened species like the Bald Eagle and endangered species.  It would destroy habitat necessary for reintroducing elk into Ohio , which could be a major benefit to tourism in southeast Ohio .

            Because Indiana bat can eat thousands of mosquitoes a day, as well as eating biting flies and moths, pushing this species to extinction would destroy a critical, natural insect control in our forests.  And with Indiana bat population having declined in half since it was listed as endangered in 1967, we need to stop the continued loss of habitat.