There is a long way to go before any shale drilling takes place within the Wayne National Forest (WNF) but the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took a step in the right direction when they recently issued its preliminary “Finding of No Significant Impact” statement regarding leasing 18,000 acres in the Marietta unit.
According to the BLM district manager, Dean Gettinger, in the recent Athens Messenger article,
“Based upon a review of the EA and supporting documents, I have determined that the proposed action (leasing of 18,494 acres in the Wayne’s Marietta Unit) is not a major federal action, and will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment, individually or cumulatively, with other actions in the general area.”
The draft Environmental Statement is subject to a 30 day public comment period (until May 29) where anyone may submit their comments focused on anticipated environmental impacts of leasing for oil and gas development. After the closing of the comment period the BLM is expected to take about 60 days to review and respond to the comments submitted. Should the “Finding of No Significant Impact” stand, the BLM can continue forward with the leasing process should the Forest Supervisor decide to move forward. If the Forest Supervisor decides to proceed with the steps to open the Wayne National Forest for oil and gas leasing, there will likely be an additional comment and review period before the final step- the lease auction. Then the process to apply for and receive a permit to drill would transpire.
A Call to Action
For now, send in your comments to encourage the BLM, and later the WNF, and show your support for leasing, drilling and private property rights. As we have stated before, the WNF is made up of many pieces and parts scattered across several counties in southeast Ohio, with many landowners personal property and minerals (through no fault of their own) are being held captive by this process.
Also, be aware of the group called “Fracking Exposed” (connected to the Athens County Fracking Action Network). They are the group that has the billboard across from the WNF headquarters calling for an end to “fracing.” They are also part of the “Keep It In the Ground” movement. We know they are going to send in comments (again) and but the strong response from the landowners, elected, business and community leaders advocating for leasing defeated the anti-drilling voice, allowing the process to continue to move along. Keep up the fight!
Please note that according to the BLM news release–
“Comments that identify issues relevant to the proposed action, or those that contain new technical or scientific information are most helpful, but all comments are considered in this decision-making process.”
Contact information for BLM
Contact: Kurt Wadzinski, Planning & Environmental Coordinator, BLM Northeastern States District
By Mail - 626 E. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 200, Milwaukee, WI 53202-4617
By Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
By Fax - 414-297-4409