The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to once again pause controversial plans to allow some new oil and gas leases in the Los Padres National Forest.
It’s the latest wrinkle in a battle that’s been going on for more than a decade. In 2005, the U.S. Forest Service decided to open the door to new oil and gas leases on 52,000 acres of land in the Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.
In 2007, three environmental groups, including Los Padres ForestWatch sued, claiming opening the land to leases violates federal environmental policies. The Forest Service agreed to revise its analysis of the plans possible impact on endangered species, so the environmental coalition put their lawsuit on hold.
The new analysis was released this summer. Environmental groups still felt it was inadequate, and threatened a new suit. They also noted the plan didn’t account for new information on the controversial use of fracking to get to oil and gas deposits.
Officials with the groups applauded the Forest Service decision to hit the pause button again on allowing new leases. The groups feel further review will produce new information about possible dangers of opening the land to new oil and gas development.