The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is lease an expected 4,525 acres of an Ohio state park for fracking.
In the oil industry’s latest effort to move into America’s state and national forests, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is poised to go with flow and lease an expected 4,525 acres of an Ohio state park for fracking by December.
The Mohican State Park and Mohican-Memorial State Forest are the latest targets of the fracking industry. According to the Mansfield News Journal, the BLM posted its intent earlier this year to lease the land to the oil industry, noting that while the state owns the land, the federal government owns the mineral rights of everything below.
When the BLM first posted its intent in March, it opened a 30-day public comment period. But environmental advocates and state residents weren’t aware because the notice was not distributed outside the agency’s website. The BLM will accept bids through Dec. 12.
Environmental advocates are warning that the fracking will disrupt the aesthetic quality of the area, as well as open the land to potential environmental dangers associated with spills and groundwater contamination. There’s also a question of wildlife habitat destruction.
“Alienating patrons by fracking and timbering the land set aside for relaxation and rejuvenation is nothing more than short-term profiteering. If Ohioans are to have a place worthy of sharing with future generations, DOF (Department of Forestry) must plan for the future, not just their pocketbooks,” Mohican Advocates Inc. attorney Eric Miller told the Mansfield News Journal.
Ohio isn’t the only state fighting to protect its national forests. Virginia’s George Washington National Forest is a potential site for fracking, as well. By the end of summer, the U.S. Forest Service is set to determine whether it will open land to the oil industry.
In 2011, the Forest Service revisited its forest plan, releasing a rough draft that limited fracking in the 1.1 million-acre George Washington National Forest. But the draft was met with criticism from the oil industry, and residents of Virginia are waiting to see what the final draft will hold.
“The GW (George Washington National Forest) is really a popular place for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, mountain biking,” Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Sarah Francisco told Mint Press News in an April interview. “It’s unique because it’s the largest forest to the east and close to Washington, D.C., and has more roadless acres this side of the Mississippi.”
Meanwhile, in Illinois, residents are bracing for fracking in the Shawnee National Forest. In March 2012, an injunction for logging and oil drilling in the forest was lifted, opening the doors for potential fracking operations.
In June, the Illinois legislature effectively opened the state to widespread fracking operations by passing industry regulations that environmental advocates criticized as weak.
According to environmental advocates, the regulations do not protect the residents and land of Illinois because oil companies, under the guise of protecting “trade secrets,” aren’t required to disclose the chemicals they use.
According to the Illinois State Geological Survey, Shawnee National Forest’s 197,000 acres are home to the state’s “most mature” oil resources. The regulations passed by the legislature do not include any limits to drilling on national forest land.