Open house on 'fracking' in national forest set for April 25
by Shane Dunaway
The National Forests in Alabama and the Southeastern States Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management will host a public open house meeting April 25 from 5-8 p.m.

The open house, held at the Gateway Park Lodge in Montgomery, will provide an opportunity for citizens to learn about the development and processing of oil and natural gas on national forest system lands.

Representatives from both organizations plan to discuss the various aspects of oil and gas leasing and development, including development history, regulatory and permitting drilling processes, National Environmental Protection Agency requirements, drilling methods and post-lease monitoring.

For more than a year, concerned citizens have adamantly opposed the high-volume hydraulic fracturing process, more commonly referred to as “fracking,” used to extract natural gas because of the environmental risks posed by the controversial procedure.

In April 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced its intent to sell gas leases for roughly 43,000 acres of land in Alabama’s national forests, the majority coming from the Talladega National Forest.

Kevin Johnston, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, penned a 34-page protest letter with more than 50 pages of supporting documentation on behalf of his clients, Wild South and the Natural Resources Defense Council, urging the bureau to reconsider.

The bureau withdrew its intent to sell gas leases after Johnston sent a 50-page notice of intent to sue due to violations of the Endangered Species Act at the end of May 2012.

Johnston said the fracking process poses several problems, most notably groundwater contamination, endangered species issues and recreation interference.

He also expressed frustration regarding the meeting’s format.

“The location is not convenient for concerned citizens to attend,” Johnston said. “We were hoping the meeting would take place closer to the forest and after work hours. I’m also concerned that there’s no opportunity to leave comments on the record.”

The open house format allows for people to stop by any of the information booths and ask questions during the three-hour session.

More information about the meeting will be made available at

Contact Shane Dunaway at

© 2013