Thursday, June 16, 2011

Please No Fracking in the GW Forest!

The proposed plan for hydraulic fracturing and vertical drilling in the George Washington National Forest poses a serious threat to our drinking water and water supplies. The Forest Service has prepared a 15 year plan which involves drilling for natural gas in 900,000 acres of the 1.l million acres of the forest. Although at first glance the forest service claims to ban the controversial drilling method called fracking there is a loophole in their plan that keeps the door open for fracking if they should need to do it.

We have every reason to be concerned about fracking. First, hydraulic fracturing is exempt from most environmental laws and controls and there is no liability on the part of gas companies if something goes wrong..... and things are going wrong in the extraction of natural gas across the country. There are also an alarming number of reports of water, land and air contamination, illness in people and wildlife in and around fracking wells across the country. Also hydraulic fracturing goes over a mile down into the earth pumping fluid at high pressures causing the rock to crack, simulating mini earthquakes that release natural gas for extraction. In Arkansas for example, there has been a sharp increase in the number of earthquakes in the areas where fracking is occurring.

In addition, fracking involves pumping 596 undisclosed chemicals and the use of 1 to 8 million gallons of water per frack, this creates 80 -300 tons of pressure going into the earth and could seriously deplete water supplies. Gas companies can frack a well up to 12 times. other states are staking strong actions to ban fracking because of the growing number of reports that we are very unaware of the current and future implications of using a drilling method that is both understudied and unregulated.

The GW forest acts as a huge water treatment system purifying our drinking water. For example, water resources in the George Washington National Forest serve an estimated 8,452 residents just within the Shenandoah County impacting our extremely fragile drinking supply. Recently our valley has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in water resource pollution controls. Now the USDA may allow this toxic fracking which is lacking such necessary safeguards. Yearly our GW Forest generated billions of dollars in timber, tourism, and other environmental benefits. We need to seriously evaluate these serious issues with fracking…..we should not put the forest in jeopardy? Please tell the Forest Service to prevent hydraulic fracturing for natural gas to preserve our natural resources. Over 100 years ago we wisely established the GW National Forest to protect our drinking water and today we need your support and input to the to the Forest Service to continue protecting this life sustaining investment.