NELSONVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Oil and gas companies will likely start bidding in a federal online auction is scheduled to begin Tuesday morning at 8am. What’s up for grabs? Leases for the fracking rights for parcels of land inside the Wayne National Forest.
Opponents have delivered petitions with close to 100,000 signatures hoping to stop the auction and about 50 protesters gathered at the Wayne National Forest headquarters in Nelsonville over the weekend.
Nathan Johnson, an attorney with the Ohio Enviornmental Council, says the industrial development that comes with hydraulic fracturing will do long-term harm to the forest. “It’s going to devastate a lot of the forest there, whether it’s through these giant well pads or through miles of pipeline construction, it’s going to ruin a lot of habitat,” Johnson said.
A Bureau of Land Management study concluded there would be no significant environmental impact from leasing the land for fracking operations.
Professor Ben Ebenhack teaches future petroleum engineers at Marietta College. “There are really very few cons to the shale play development,” Ebenhack said.
Ebenhack says the development of horizontal fracking into shale beds deep underground has brought the country closer to energy independence. “It has enabled the United States to turn what had been a 40 year decline into energy production growth.”
The Bureau of Land Management initially list 33 parcels and a total of about 1600 acres for the online auction but has now removed about half of the parcels after it was discovered they were subject to predicting leases.