Appeals from three conservation groups and the California attorney general to stop plans for oil drilling expansion in Los Padres National Forest were denied this week. The U.S. Forest Service announced on Monday that it was rejecting all appeals of its July 2005 decision to open more than 52,000 acres of the forest to expanded oil and gas drilling. The plan allows for new surface drilling with associated roads on 4,000 acres, while designating the remaining 4,800 acres for slant drilling activity. Responding to appellants’ charges that the agency did not properly investigate the possible environmental impacts of the proposal, the Forest Service promised to fully examine these concerns if and when actual drilling leases are issued. Currently, there are 240 active wells in Los Padres.

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