Forest Service Hears Hydrofracking Concerns

Brent Finnegan -- October 6th, 2010

The U.S. Forest Service held a public meeting Tuesday in Verona to discuss possible revisions to their land management plan in George Washington National Forest over the next 15 years. The USFS is in the process of determining where companies may drill for natural gas using the controversial hydrofracturing, or hydrofracking method.

Rebecca Martinez reported in today’s News Leader that more than 50 people attended the public meeting. Several attendees expressed concerns over the environmental impact of using so much water to drill into the shale.

Of the alternative plans, besides the one that would not allow drilling, one would allow the status quo to continue, another would ban horizontal drilling and three would require a moratorium on drilling pending the Environmental Protection Agency’s report on hydrofracking or a waiting period (read more).

NBC 29 reported:

The plans range from allowing miles of new roads to be built each year to ripping out roads. Some plans add hiking and ATV trails while others close recreation sites. This first complete forest plan update since 1993 also deals with a new environmental and economic concern where to permit oil and gas drilling . . .

The forest service will select the preferred plan and put out an environmental impact statement in January. Then you’ll have 90-days to comment before a final forest plan is put into action around this time next year.

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16 Responses to “Forest Service Hears Hydrofracking Concerns”

  1. I don’t believe that ANY hydrofracking has been done in the George Washington National Forest at this time!

    Please check with US Forest Service and keep an eye on new postings on their website which is the official place for updates for the George Washington National Forest Plan Revision.

    The discussion Oct. 5th was about Alternative Draft plans FROM “A” – to – “F”. In the “C” and “E” draft plans there was NO Marcellus Shale development / hydrofracking and other draft plans had variations of permitting, without detailing what the ‘specific standards’ for hydrofacking would be. We asked to see the ‘specific standards’ for hydrofracking in writing as soon as possible before the final Draft Plan is issued (January 2011). There will be 90 days for public comment after the final Plan is published.

    ALTERNATIVES as listed in a paper that was handed out by the Forest Service were:

    “A” – “No direction for Marcellus shale development.”

    “B” – “Marcellus shale development allowed on all availabe acres but specific standards related to hydrofracking would be used.”

    “C” – No areas available for oil and gas lessing.”

    “D” – “Marcellus shale development allowed on all avalialbe acres but specific standards related to hydrofracking would be used.”

    “E” – “No areas available for Marcellus Shale development.

    “F” – “Marcellus shale development allowed on all
    available acres but specific standards related to hydrofracking would be used.”

  2. Daniel says:

    No fracking in Virginia, yet. But about 55% of the forest is “suitable” for hydrofracking.

    I was at the meeting, too, in Verona. I lean towards Alternative D, however there are a few things in the plan I do not like, such has fracking.

    One thing I have learned through this entire process, though, is these Wilderness advocates are some strange folks….

  3. David Miller says:

    Formerly I did not support Wind Farms (state owned) on National Forest but after seeing this I think that the only responsible “energy development” on our public lands would be renewable and “hydrofracking” does NOT fall into that category.

    • Daniel says:

      I’m kind of the oppisite. I was for wind energy previously, but now I find myself against it. At least here in our mountains.

      Put it off the coast where no one has to see it.

  4. Lowell Fulk says:

    Sorry Daniel, but I must respectfully disagree. I find windmills possessing a graceful beauty in great contrast to leveled mountain tops, destroyed streams, and enormous toxic pollution.

    • Lowell Fulk says:

      And I haven’t even mentioned hydraulic fracturing to capture natural gas…

      • Daniel says:

        Research the hydrofracking before commenting. No one in their right mind would even consider this. These unknown chemicals have contaminated ground water to the point where it can be set on fire. That’s not normal, and that’s hardly environmentally friendly.

        In your first comment you try to act as if you’re Mr. Environmentalist. You think that wind farms is the future of green energy, and that if we do not utilize wind somehow the mountain top will be cut off and run-off will destroy streams and somehow cause toxic pollution.

        What you do not mention is the 100′ wide right-of-ways that would have to be cut into the mountain ridges just to get the wind mills to the top of the mountain as seen at Mount Storm in WV. This, too, causes run-off where sediment can reach the streams and rivers. We’re not even talking about the foot-print the wind mills them selves require.

        But then you go from Mr. Environmentalist, to Mr. Horizontal Drilling Guy. Because the “tops of the mountain” are not being “cut off”, horizontal drilling and fracking the Marcellus Shale must be better. It;s much more attractive, right? Who cares what chemical they’re using to do this fracking, or where the waste goes…

        Here you go, Lowell, this will get you started.

  5. The problem is that there are no “standards” for hydrofracturing. The drilling companies use a range of methodologies better described as “whatever works”. And they guard those practices by declaring them “proprietary”, and will not disclose what is being injected, and how.

    It would be nice if the US Government reasserted its responsibility to control our shared resources and commonwealth by carefully regulating the process and put real financial responsibility requirements on the drillers – so that taxpayers aren’t left cleaning up the mess.

  6. David Miller says:

    Not only would it be nice if the US Gov reassert its responsibility to control shared resources and guard the commonwealth, when it comes to BP type spills happening in our mountains, I demand responsible oversight before “the oil hits our shores”!

  7. Troy Lucas says:

    One of the things I haven’t yet seen addressed in this conversation is the “rights”, private or public, to clean, uncontaminated drinking water. It seems this is shaping up to be the next largest issue in corporate and governmental control around the world as there is decreasing supply of uncontaminated water sources. Fracking is an absolute no-brainer as it would almost certainly destroy the good water supply we have left around us. While wind energy has it’s own environmental issues, I would much favor it to allowing fracking to occur anywhere close to our water supply. Blue Gold is a movie I strongly recommend watching.

  8. Daniel says:

    The Forest Service has two views on drinking water. 1) they do not care how “dirty” the water is because the municipalities have the equipment necessary to clean that water to make it safe for consumption; and 2) the water should be protected so it’s safe for fish and wildlife.

    It sounds like two totally different points of views, but it’s not. Our water here in the mountains is much cleaner than the water coming out of the Potomac tributary. Same with the James. But even that water is safe for consumption after treatment.

    There are several small streams within Rockingham County and Pendeltion County, WV, no wider than a door-way, thriving with native trout. I’m talking 12″ and 13″ fish. That equates to very good water quality.

    As far as the Forest Service is concerned, the water quality is good in our forests. Without looking, I think each of the Draft Plans on the table right now also include a 90′ buffer around all creeks and streams, which, IMO, is really good. So they’re not looking to compromise anything that has thriving over the last 15-years.

    Harrisonburg City, on the other hand, is about to mess thing up royally with their timber operation off Rt.33 from Riven Rock Park to Switzer Damn.

  9. joe says:

    i say get all the energy you can, as cheap and safely as you can. i certainly don’t think cutting down our forest to make way for massive fields of windmills is the best way, but neither do i think using unsafe chemicals. i believe if the Govt stays out of the way the successful energy companies throughout the country will come up with the best solutions.

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