Feds will lease mineral rights in Ohio forest

ZANESVILLE, Ohio (AP) — A federal agency plans to open up a state forest in eastern Ohio to shale gas drilling.

The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/13j9r0g ) reports that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants to open more than 4,500 acres of the Blue Rock State Forest in Muskingum County to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Bids from oil and gas companies will be sought in a Dec. 12 public sale. That has environmental-advocacy groups asking why neither federal nor state officials took any additional steps to inform the public.

Robert Gillcash, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman, said the agency followed rules for public notification and put the land up for auction only after Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials consented.

But state officials say the decision was made without their input.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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