Full victory for the environmentalists groups in East Texas, after tthe U.S. Forest Service said it was tabling the leasing of land in for oil and gas exploration. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management had scheduled an auction for April for the leasing of roughly 28,000 acres of Davy Crockett National Forest for potential oil and gas activity.
The letter, addressed to the Amy Lueders of the Bureau of Land Management’s New Mexico office, which was to hold the auction, said the Forest Service withdrew its consent for the lease of forest lands in the April 20 auction.
Oil and gas operations have actually taken place in Davy Crockett National Forest and other federal public land for decades: Davy Crockett currently has 119,761 acres leased within 114 active leases, according to Forest Service spokesman Ernie Murray; the oldest active lease was issued in 1970.
The East Texas forest totals 160,466.77 acres. Leases carry stipulations that drilling requires environmental review and site-specific protections, said Murray.
“We’re very pleased that the Forest Service pulled these lands to allow time to notify the public and address our concerns, but the reality is that no public oil and gas leases should be sold,” said Wendy Park, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, which had protested the auction. “Oil and gas drilling results in the clearing of valuable public forests for well pads, roads and pipelines, while fracking threatens watersheds and public water supplies. Public fossil fuels must remain in the ground if we are to avert the worst impacts of climate change.”