Feds' oversight begins on drilling in forest


The U.S. Forest Service's regional office in Milwaukee has taken over management of the booming oil and gas industry operations on the Allegheny National Forest, where thousands of wells have been drilled in recent years.

Using rarely exercised authority, the regional office will review all applications for access to the privately owned oil and gas reserves under the Allegheny National Forest. Those reviews had been done by Forest Service workers on the Allegheny who have been ordered not to approve or sign any "notice to proceed" documents until reviews by the regional office are completed.

…The decision to order an environmental impact study of the oil and gas operations on the forest comes a year after the Forest Service determined that a 10-year management plan produced by the Allegheny National Forest in 2007 failed to assess the cumulative effects of the drilling and didn't provide an opportunity for public comment on the plan's oil and gas development rules.