by David Rickless, Coalition of Alabama Students for the Environment
Talladega National Forest, located in eastern Alabama, is one of the state's most valuable natural resources. The forest is a popular destination for hikers, campers, hunters, and bikers, attracting an estimated 600,000 visitors each year, and it contains habitat for endangered and threatened species, as well as essential water sources for nearby towns.
Despite all this, the Talladega Forest has been targeted by Big Oil and Gas. On June 14, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to sell drilling leases for 43,000 acres of the Forest. There may not even be enough gas under the forest to warrant drilling, but, if there is, it might be accessed with hydraulic fracking.
Right now, communities near Talladega Forest have some of the cleanest water sources in the country, but fracking could change that. As you probably know, gas drilling in other parts of the country has contaminated groundwater, and a recent study found that fracking chemicals can reach underground aquifers much faster than previously thought.
The BLM's decision to sell leases in the Talladega is based on a 2004 study conducted by the Forest Service. NRDC says the study is outdated and woefully inadequate--it doesn't consider fracking at all:
The 2004 analysis does not even mention fracking or horizontal drilling, potential impacts from spills or leaks of fracking chemicals, or the potential effects from large drilling pads and thousands of truck trips. It doesn’t consider the effects of fracking on the waters of the forest, which serve as a drinking water source for communities like Anniston and Jacksonville, Alabama, or whether this new development will harm the endangered and threatened wildlife species that call the Forest home.
We still have time to halt the drilling leases in Talladega National Forest and protect the nearby communities from exploitation. The local anti-fracking movement is building momentum, but we need your help to secure a victory.
Please sign this petition demanding the BLM stop leasing National Forest land for oil and gas drilling.
This is a federal lands issue, so it doesn't matter where in the U.S. you live. (Though, if you live in Alabama you might want to write your representatives, as well.)
A win in Alabama will forward the anti-fracking cause nationwide, and the Power Shift network can make a tremendous difference. I don't often ask you personally to take action, but I will today: Please take a minute to support efforts to safeguard the public health from fracking, in Alabama and throughout the country. I've told the local organizers that you guys know how to make a difference, and I hope you'll prove me right.
If you'd like to get more involved, contact Wild South at 256-974-6166, or at WildSouth.org. And, if you want to delve deeper, you can read the detailed letter of protest filed by the Souther Environmental Law Center.