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Environment & Energy

Feds Are Auctioning Drilling Rights in Ohio's Wayne National Forests

Wayne Nationa Forest in SE Ohio
U.S. Forest Service
Wayne National Forest

Oil and gas drilling leases in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest are going to be auctioned Tuesday. 

With current technologies, like lateral drilling, modern oil and gas exploration requires leasing hundreds of contiguous acres called units. Land for the Wayne National Forest was accumulated over the last 80 years in hundreds of small pieces commingled with private properties, making creating “units” impossible -- unless the federal government leases its mineral rights, which it now plans to do through an on-line auction. 

Shawn Bennett
Credit Ohio Oil and Gas
Shawn Bennett, EVP of Ohio Oil & Gas Association

Shawn Bennett, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, says the rights, once leased, whether they were government or privately owned, can be combined to create the large aggregations that are typically more attractive to drillers. He also says that’s why land owners in the area support the auction.

Melanie Houston, Director of Oil & Gas of the Ohio Environmental Council
Credit Ohio Environmental Council
Melanie Houston

But, the Ohio Environmental Council opposes the sale of rights in the Wayne National Forrest. 

It is filing an appeal with the Bureau of Land Management asking it not to go through with the sales. 

Melanie Houston, director of oil and gas for the Environmental Council says her organization sees the government lease program in a different light.

“In just the last few months more than 92,000 people weighed in on this, expressing support for the Wayne. So we really feel that we’re on the side of the public here. That’s why we’re continue to do this work.  And why we’ll continue to call on our public officials and the Obama administration to stop this lease.”

Ohio Environmental Council opposition

The parcels being auctioned add up to about 1,600 acres.