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Tensions Escalate at BLM Meeting in Ohio

by Elizabeth Alford on November 19, 2015

Things got ugly during a recent open house over possible drilling on Ohio’s public lands.

Related: Mineral Auction for Public Land Draws Protest

Protesters shut down a routine meeting last week that was designed to be a public forum to discuss the possible leasing of federal oil and gas rights in the Wayne National Forest. Less than an hour into the meeting, officials for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) called it quits when protesters continued to disrupt the proceedings by chanting.

According to several accounts, tensions mounted and the altercation became physical when a forest service officer became aggressive and shoved protesters with his baton. Sarah Kaplan, the vice president of communications for Ohio University’s Graduate Student Senate, posted a video to her Facebook of the incident.

The BLM is trying to determine whether it should lease 31,900 acres of the Wayne National Forest for oil and gas exploration. Though the decision involves only federally owned mineral rights, private property owners and owners of mineral rights under the forest could benefit if the decision is made to allow it. But if the mineral rights of the forest remain off limits, it can block adjacent property owners from leasing their minerals.

“The forest is preventing property owners from accessing their minerals,” said Becky Clutter of the pro-leasing group Landowners for Energy Access and Safe Exploration (LEASE).“We’re just asking the BLM to look at it from a landowner’s perspective. It’s become a private landowner issue.”





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