USDA's Forest Service Withdraws Ohio Public Lands from O&G Lease Sale

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service has withdrawn over 3,000 acres of public lands in Ohio from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Dec. 7 oil and gas lease sale.

Wayne National Forest Supervisor Anne Carey on Nov. 15 said the lands were being withdrawn so that the Forest Service could study the potential impact that shale gas exploration, particularly deep horizontal drilling, would have on these lands.

The Review of New Information will assist the forest in making a decision whether the 2006 Forest Plan needs to be amended or revised. The review could take up to six months and will disclose the effects on the surface that's associated with this new technology.

"Conditions have changed since the 2006 Forest Plan was developed," said Carey. "The technology used in the Utica and Marcellus shale formations need to be studied to see if potential effects to the surface are significantly different than those identified in the Forest Plan."

The proposed sale, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management Eastern States office included five parcels of national forest lands in Athens, Gallia, and Perry counties.

At present, the Wayne National Forest has nearly 1,300 oil and gas wells mainly located on the Athens Ranger District-Marietta Unit in Washington and Monroe counties.

Last month, the Buckeye Forest Council (BFC) filed a formal protest letter with BLM over the proposed sale of oil and gas leases in Wayne National Forest. BFC filed the complaint on behalf of the Sierra Club and several other environmental groups, alleging that offering the leases for sale would violate the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Forest Management Act.

The Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program has estimated that exploration and development of Ohio's Utica shale could bolster the state's economy by creating and supporting more than 200,000 Ohio-based jobs and approximately $479 million in total tax revenues from 2011 through 2015.


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