On November 4, 2015, the USDA Forest Service announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Northeastern States District will prepare environmental assessments to determine whether oil and natural gas development will be allowed in the Wayne National Forest, located southeastern Ohio.
As stated in the press release, “[f]ollowing the completion of each EA, a decision will be made by the BLM to either approve leasing parcels, not approve leasing parcels, or complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to address leasing.” BLM will conduct three public meetings in the cities of Marietta, Athens and Ironton throughout November to receive comments on leasing federally-owned oil and gas rights beneath the Wayne National Forest.
In May 2012, BLM released a Finding for the Supplemental Information Report concluding that horizontal shale drilling was now economically viable in certain areas of the Wayne National Forest overlaying Marcellus and Utica shale deposits. The Forest Service approved the report in August 2012 but several environmental organizations, including the Ohio Environmental Council and the Buckeye Forest Council, opposed the leasing of forest lands. As a result, no shale drilling projects have been proposed so far in the Wayne National Forest.
Further information can be found at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/wayne/home.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow