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Ohio national forest OKs natural gas drilling

Associated Press Modified: August 27, 2012 at 7:31 pm •  Published: August 27, 2012

For the report, Forest Service officials pulled together a team of natural resources experts to analyze above-ground effects from the practice in the forest that currently has nearly 1,300 shallow oil and gas wells. The Bureau of Land Management, which has control over mineral rights beneath the surface of the federal land, has found that it is economically feasible for deep well horizontal drilling there. The Forest Service report also says 13 high-volume horizontal drilling well sites potentially could be developed in the forest through 2016.

But it will be up to the Bureau of Land Management to consider and allocate any proposals for leasing oil and gas rights in the forest, Forest Service spokeswoman Jane Cliff said Monday. A message was left Monday at the bureau's Washington offices.

Nathan Johnson, a staff attorney with the Buckeye Forest Council, said Monday that the group is extremely disappointed with the Forest Service's finding and thinks it's "a bad decision."

"The analysis in the 2006 plan doesn't consider the potential impact of shale fracking on the environment," Johnson said.

He said that the group is not ruling out possible legal action in an effort to compel the Forest Service to conduct a formal environmental impact study.