Proposed fracking in Ohio national forest gets hearings

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — The federal government is hearing diverse opinions as it again considers whether to open Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio to oil-and-gas drilling.

Attendees of a series of U.S. Bureau of Land Management hearings being held this week say both opponents and supporters have been out in force.

The bureau is proposing allowing drilling beneath about 31,900 acres of the forest through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It is determining who owns mineral rights, assessing potential environmental risks and gathering public input.

An activist coalition including the Buckeye Forest Council, Sierra Club and other fracking opponents has called for a “full-scale environmental report” before proceeding. Environmental concerns led the bureau to drop an earlier drilling proposal in 2011.

Many landowners and companies favorable to fracking also have spoken out.