Friday, June 3, 2011

Law and Order in the Ozarks (Part LXXX): Lawsuit filed to stop "fracking" in Ozark National Forest

The May 25, 2011 issue of the Newton County Times reports on a lawsuit filed in federal court by an attorney in Heber Springs, Arkansas, population 7,117, seeking to stop gas drilling by hydraulic fracturing in the Ozark National Forest in northwest Arkansas and under Greers Ferry Lake in north central Arkansas. Richard Mays of the lay firm Mays & White filed the suit. He has been involved in a number of high profile environmental cases in the state. The suits seeks an injunction against the issuance of additional gas leases until environmental impact statements and other federal requirements for drilling have been brought into compliance.

While the fracking in north central Arkansas has drawn national media attention because of earthquake storms in and around Guy, Arkansas (read more here), I have seen nothing about this process being used in the Ozark National Forest. Mays alleges, however, that hydraulic fracturing is taking place in the Ozark National Forest and that the number of wells there far exceeds estimates the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made in 2005. The suit asserts that the drilling will severely damage the forest, with deleterious effects on both surface and ground water,the air, and other aspects of the environment. Mays argues that, under federal law, the BLM should have conducted environmental impact statements and Resource Management Plans before permitting the fracking.

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