Feds seek public input on oil-and-gas leasing in Ohio forest

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — A federal agency is seeking public comments on a draft environmental assessment of proposed oil and gas leasing in Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio.

The Bureau of Land Management opened a comment period this week. Documents will be available for review until May 29.

The environmental report analyzes impacts on about 40,000 acres underlying the forest. The agency says it is assessing a broader area than would be opened to drilling to avoid having to do a separate report on each individual lease request.

Oil and gas companies told the bureau that they wanted to drill beneath the forest in 2011.

The proposal has seen heated debate that pits supporters of the economic potential of the wells against southeastern Ohio residents and groups concerned about environmental problems.