Keep Alabama Beautiful—Keep Fracking and Drilling Out
By Alison Grass
Alabama isn’t called Alabama the Beautiful without reason. Anyone who has visited the state can attest to that. Then again, I may be partial to its splendor, seeing as how I am from Alabama and grew up across the street from endless fields of farmland, spending my childhood days climbing tall trees in the woods behind our house. Alabama has a rich and diverse geography. Open spaces are laden in valleys and rivers that roll through sloping hills. The Appalachian Valley characterizes several portions of the state, whereas the southern region consists of coastal plains, the Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico’s sunny beachside.
When I recently found out that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service plan to auction 43,000 acres of public land in the Talladega and Conecuh Nation Forests for potential oil and gas drilling, I grew concerned and wanted to know more.
So I began digging, and talked to some locals, and this is what I learned: nobody knew what that the BLM and U.S. Forest Service were planning until recently, in late April. Even though more residents have finally gotten wind of the situation, the public’s opportunity to file formal protest of the sale has already passed. Apparently, everything was so secretive that even local districts of the U.S. Forest Service were in the dark.
Local groups I spoke to oppose this secretive sale entirely, along with any and all forms of oil and gas drilling on their public lands. If you regularly follow Food & Water Watch’s work, you already know that fracking is one of the industry’s most reckless and dangerous practices. Fracking has been shown to contaminate water, produces a toxic wastewater byproduct, and releases greenhouse gases, smog-inducing compounds and known carcinogens into the air; and now Alabama the Beautiful is at risk.
The public has had absolutely no voice in will happen on their own lands, and their environment, public health and precious water resources could be put in peril. Alabamians can’t let their beautiful forestland get fracked.
But, time is of the essence. There is less than a month before the anticipated date of June 14 for the oil and gas lease sale. Tell the BLM and local, state, county and city officials to permanently withdraw all lands on the National Forests of Alabama from the June 14, 2012 oil and gas lease sale. If you live in Alabama, call your member of Congress, (you can reach them through the congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121.) And of course, let the BLM know that you do not approve of this sale.