Fracking involves drilling a mile or more into the earth, then drilling horizontally into shale, pumping a mix of sand, water, and chemicals under high pressure to crack the rock and force natural gas trapped there to the surface.
Areas around the country where fracking has been done extensively report a host of unsettling problems and concerns -- contamination of drinking water wells, pollution of surface waters, mishandling of drilling wastewater, runoff pollution, air pollution, forest fragmentation, unsustainable truck traffic, and the industrialization of once quiet, rural areas.
As a result, the U.S. EPA, states, and localities around the nation are taking a harder look at fracking and how better to ensure that local interests and the environment are protected as mining companies seek to exploit this new and potentially large sources of natural gas.
In Virginia, a portion of the George Washington National Forest sits atop a shale formation that potentially could contain pockets of natural gas reachable by fracking. The U.S. Forest Service, which manages the forest, is currently considering whether to allow fracking within the forest, a request of gas companies and not a few politicians. To date, the Forest Service has prohibited the practice, although traditional vertical gas drilling has been permitted.
The George Washington National Forest “is a treasure that merits close guarding,” the paper opined. “In this particular case, the conservative approach calls for putting conservation first — and placing the burden of proof on those who would do otherwise.”
I couldn’t agree more. What do you think?
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
(Photos: Tom Pelton/CBF; National Forest Service)