Arlington County, Virginia joined a growing number of local governments, elected officials and major water providers in unanimously passing a resolution opposing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the George Washington National Forest.
By passing the resolution June 17, Arlington became the first jurisdiction in politically powerful Northern Virginia to oppose horizontal drilling in the forest, though several elected officials from the region have already taken the same stance including U.S. Reps. Jim Moran and Gerald E. Connolly and State Delegate Patrick Hope. Former Virginia Lieutenant Governor, Don Beyer, who recently won the Democratic primary to replace Moran, who is retiring, has also opposed horizontal drilling and fracking in the forest.
Learn about the proposal to frack in the George Washington National Forest, the source of drinking water for Fairfax and the rest of the DC metropolitan area, from Dusty Horwitt of Earthworks. Dusty has used his experience in journalism, law, and politics to conduct investigative research and advocacy on metal mining, oil and natural gas drilling, and hydraulic fracturing. His work has helped protect the Grand Canyon and Colorado River from uranium mining and the state of New York from unsafe shale gas drilling.
More local government officials in Washington, DC have taken a stand against horizontal drilling and fracking for shale gas in the George Washington National Forest. Commissioners of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A, who represent the neighborhood that includes the White House, voted on December 18 to pass a resolution opposing the drilling practice in the forest. The commissioners joined three DC-area water providers, DC Water, Fairfax Water and the Army Corps of Engineers’ Washington Aqueduct, that have also opposed horizontal drilling and fracking in the forest. Earthworks provided testimony in support of the commission’s resolution.
Major D.C. area water providers, local governments and conservation organizations have warned that an impending U.S. Forest Service decision on whether to allow fracking and horizontal drilling for natural gas in the George Washington National Forest could threaten a range of resources – including the headwaters of the Potomac River, the D.C. area’s major drinking water source. The Forest Service could make a decision to allow the practice in the coming weeks.
The latest example of drilling industry hypocrisy?
Norse Energy’s lawsuit against the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for supposedly taking too long to finish its review of drilling impacts before deciding whether to allow horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in New York.
A recent state report showed that oil and natural gas producers in North Dakota were flaring (burning it at the wellhead) 29 percent of the approximately 31 billion cubic feet of natural gas produced in the state in August. That’s about nine billion cubic feet of natural gas that never made it into people’s homes to provide heat or into factories to produce goods. To put this figure in perspective, the nine billion cubic feet of natural gas flared in a single month (more than $30 million at August natural gas prices) is enough to supply residential customers in North Dakota for most of an entire year. The state’s residential customers used 9.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012 according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Nor will private landowners collect royalties or the state collect production taxes on the flared gas. Nationally, only one percent of natural gas is flared.
New York City is not the only major metro area whose drinking water supply could be threatened by shale gas drilling. The Washington, DC area has joined the club.
That’s because the U.S. Forest Service could decide as early as October 2013 to allow horizontal drilling for shale gas in the George Washington National Forest, a 1.1. million-acre tract located in western Virginia and West Virginia that is the closest National Forest to Washington D.C. and contains the headwaters of the Potomac River that provides drinking water to more than 4 million people in the Washington area.