Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Forest Service Agrees to Halt Oil, Gas Leasing in Los Padres National Fores

The U.S. Forest Service is halting new oil and gas leasing throughout the Los Padres National Forest, which prompted a federal court today to stay ongoing litigation against the agency by conservation groups. The leasing suspension will allow the Forest Service to consider the risks of fracking and drilling in the southern and central California forest to air and water quality and endangered animals like the California condor. The Forest Service suspended its leasing plan in response to an October 2016 notice of intent to sue from the Center for Biological Diversity, Los Padres ForestWatch and Defenders of Wildlife. That notice was accompanied by a letter detailing significant new information about fracking and oil development, not known when the Service approved the plan more than a decade ago. The leasing suspension places a hold on a decade-long legal battle initiated by the conservation groups to protect public lands slated for oil development. The agency agreed to suspend its 2005 decision that allowed expanded oil and gas leasing and development throughout the forest. The Forest Service’s suspension oil and gas leasing will allow officials to complete additional environmental review and consult with federal wildlife biologists under the Endangered Species Act...more

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