By Glynn Wilson –
The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club is formally asking the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw a plan to lease 43,000 acres for oil and gas exploration in the Talladega National Forest.
A letter is being mailed today to Forest Supervisor Steve Lohr, who admitted in a video interview with me that he alone made the decision to put this particular 43,000 acres up for lease (see map below) in an area where hydraulic fracturing or fracking could pose a serious economic and environmental threat to the national forest.
Watch the video here:
Here is the text of the letter.
2946 Chestnut Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36107
Re: Lease sales in Talladega National Forest
The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club requests that the U. S. Forest Service immediately withdraw its proposal to allow lease sale of 43,000 acres in the Talladega National Forest. We have reached this decision because of the arbitrary basis on which these areas were selected and the overwhelmingly negative impacts oil and gas exploration would have on the environment and the State’s economy.
It has come to our attention that the selections were neither industry-driven nor based on science. You admitted, in an interview captured on video at a public meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, that you alone chose the areas included in the proposed lease sale (map attached) without consultation with geology experts. Kemba Anderson-Artis with the Bureau of Land Management confirmed your statement. In the same video, Dr. David E. Bolin, deputy director of the State Oil and Gas Board of Alabama, explained that virtually all of the areas outlined in the maps are underlain with igneous and metamorphic rock with no potential for oil and gas production.
Furthermore, these public lands contain pristine waters and some of the greatest diversity of aquatic and terrestrial species in all of the United States; any exploration would destroy the bounty and beauty of the land. Very little thought and no scientific studies, such as a full Environmental Impact Assessment and an Environmental Impact Statement, have examined what oil and gas exploration in the Talladega National Forest would do to endangered and threatened species that live in the area.
Due to its natural features, this region is a popular destination for tourists and admirers of the natural world. If any of the proposed leases were sold, then major economic losses for the local area would result. Environmental tourism is vital to the area’s and State’s economies.
The Sierra Club is the oldest non-profit environmental organization in the United States, and our mission is to explore, enjoy and protect the environment as well as to promote and practice responsible use of the earth’s resources. The Alabama Chapter, with 2500 members, strongly opposes the leasing of public lands for oil and gas exploration. Therefore, we resolve that the U. S. Forest Service, as the sole agency responsible for proposing this lease sale, withdraw its proposal.
As a matter of public policy at this time, the only wise course for the U.S. Forest Service is to withdraw the proposed lease sale of 43,000 acres in the Talladega National Forest.
Chair of the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club
cc. President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
cc. Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
cc. Tom Tidwel
U.S. Forest Service Chief
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
cc. USDA Forest Service
Southern Region (R8)
1720 Peachtree Road, NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
cc. Neil Kornze
Principal Deputy Director:
Bureau of Land Management
1849 C Street NW, Rm. 5665
Washington DC 20240
© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.