Notices to proceed are being issued and the U.S. Forest Service is looking to future drilling operations.
A recent announcement from the U.S. Forest Service requested notices of intent from those who own or lease subsurface mineral rights on the Allegheny National Forest.
A settlement agreement between the Forest Service and three environmental groups that had sued the agency stipulates that the Forest Service will apply the National Environmental Policy Act to proposed drilling operations on the forest.
The settlement and subsequent filings are under consideration in federal court.
Another part of the settlement allows 54 pending development packages to move forward.
Other than those, no subsurface mineral development will take place on the ANF for at least a year, if the terms of the agreement are approved.
During that year, the Forest Service will develop a baseline for making environmental decisions.
"The first step in allowing the Forest to move forward under the terms of the settlement will be the completion of a forest-wide environmental analysis," ANF Spokesperson Kathy Mohney said. "According to Forest Supervisor Leanne Marten, the Forest Service will be initiating a forest-wide site-specific environmental analysis for proposals not included in the settlement, as well as any other proposed activity anticipated between now and December 31, 2013."
Those interested in developing subsurface mineral rights on the forest before that date are asked to submit proposals.
Each plan should include "a map showing where you are proposing future development activities, and locations for proposed wells, access roads, tank batteries, pipelines and utility lines," Mohney wrote in the release. "Please be as specific as possible, and submit the information in digital format if available."
The deadline for those is May 8.
Proposals will be used in the creation of the forest-wide environmental analysis.
Proposals should be sent to the attention of Paul Weese at the Allegheny National Forest, 4 Farm Colony Drive, Warren. Weese is the ANF Oil and Gas Administration Team Leader.