Today the U.S. Forest Service announced that the federal management plan will reverse an outright fracing ban that was proposed in 2011 for the George Washington National Forest, according to a news release from the Forest Service.

The decision was highly anticipated by environmentalists and the energy industry because about half of the 1.1 million-acre forest sits atop the Marcellus shale formation. In the end, the Forest Service came to a compromise between the two groups.

The new plan opens 167,000 acres to drilling that already had existing private mineral rights and an additional 10,000 acres that was already leased to oil and gas companies. The other 985,000 acres where drilling might have been permitted will not be available in the federally owned forest. The split ownership of the newly available 167,000 acres stems from a case years ago in which the federal government acquired land for the forest, but some sellers retained their mineral rights on the land.

“We think we’ve ended up in a much better place, which is we are allowing oil and gas drilling,” said Robert Bonnie, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment. “From a policy perspective, the Forest Service allows fracing on forest lands throughout the country. We didn’t want to make a policy decision or change policy related to fracing. This decision is about where it’s appropriate to do oil and gas leasing.”

The George Washington lies on the southeastern fringe of the Marcellus Shale. But federal officials said that part of the shale region in the George Washington National Forest is not particularly productive, and while some companies have acquired drilling rights, no one has drilled, reports Daily Progress.

The plan for the George Washington also calls for expanding natural buffers along streams to reduce pollution; increasing the area suitable for logging; adding two wilderness areas; and creating a 90,000-acre national scenic area on Shenandoah Mountain in Rockingham and Augusta counties. The latter two actions will require congressional action.

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