Open Meeting Scheduled to Consider Natural Gas ‘Fracking’ in Alabama National Forests

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Cheaha Mountain View

A view from atop Cheaha Mountain – everything in view is included in the proposed lease sale

By Glynn Wilson

In what federal officials are calling an “open house,” the Southeastern field Office of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have invited the public to “learn more” about the plan to develop and process oil and gas on Alabama’s national forest lands in Montgomery on April 25.

According to our previous reports on this subject, a spokesperson for the BLM indicated that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is now the primary method for developing these resources and is the main impetus for corporate interest in leasing national forest land for development these days.

This is not a formal public hearing in the legal sense. It is designed as a way to sell the public on the idea and dissipate public opposition, and it will be held from 3-6 p.m. at the Gateway Park Lodge, 3800 Davenport Drive in Montgomery.

“The planned open house will focus on various aspects of oil and gas leasing and development on the National Forests in Alabama,” according to the press release announcing the meeting.

Discussion topics will include the history of development; regulatory and permitting drilling processes; National Environmental Policy Act requirements; drilling methods; and post-lease monitoring.

“The informal format of the event will allow people to drop by at any time during the three-hour period to visit information stations and ask questions,” the release indicates. “National forests are managed for a broad range of multiple uses, from wilderness protection to recreation to timber management and resource development. The Forest Service manages national forest mineral resources and BLM oversees drilling activities. The agencies also work with stakeholders and other members of the public to balance conservation and resource needs.”

The Forest Service develops land use plans, with significant public input, that determine if and where leasing activities are appropriate, according to the announcement.

The 2004 Forest Management Plan in effect at this time, which allows for oil and gas drilling in the national forests, was developed during the Bush years under the pro-big business leadership of then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who of course was also president of Haliburton, the company most likely interested in these leases.

“If interest in leasing exists and the land meets the leasing criteria in the Forest Plan, the Forest Service gives consent for leasing to the BLM,” according to the announcement. “The BLM manages the leasing process and issues the lease. The two agencies work together to administer the lease once the lease is issued.”

Experts from both agencies, as well as state agencies, will be available at the open house to discuss these processes and answer questions.

Additional information about the meeting will be available at this Website.

We will have a major story with photos and video up in advance of this meeting to inform and educate the public on the dangers of fracking and why this should NOT be allowed in our national forests. See some of our previous coverage below.

The non-profit environmental groups Wildsouth and the Southern Environmental Law Center have led the fight to prevent fracking in Alabama’s national forests.

Talladega National Forest Makes Top Ten List of Most Endangered Places in the South

© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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