BLM drops WV forest lands from oil, gas auction

Excerpts:

The federal Bureau of Land Management has dropped West Virginia's Monongahela National Forest from next week's planned oil and gas lease auction so it can review protests from environmental groups who oppose drilling in the forest.

… Friends of Blackwater Canyon and The Wilderness Society opposed the auction, saying drilling could undermine recreation in the region, harm native trout streams and hurt endangered species, including bat populations that are being threatened by white-nose syndrome.

… Lewis said BLM is in a "period of transition'' and it wanted to review the issues raised in the groups' protest before putting the leases up for auction. "It is the Bureau of Land Management that has deleted it, not the forest service,'' he said. "It doesn't mean it won't ever come back up.''