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Virginia and fracking

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Texas-based energy company Shore Exploration and Production Corp plans to frack for oil and gas by 2015 in Virginia's Taylorsville basin, a geological formation running through parts of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.[1]

As of September 2013 the U.S. Forest Service is debating whether to restrict horizontal drilling in Virginia's portion of the George Washington National Forest.[2]

Introduction

History

A 2012 U.S. Geological Survey assessment released in June 2012 suggests there could be more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Taylorsville basin, a geological formation running through parts of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. The Taylorsville basin dates back about 210 million years to the Mesozoic Era. It’s among several basins extending from offshore, through Virginia’s Coastal Plain, west to the Appalachian Mountains.[1]

In the 1980s Texas-based energy company Shore Exploration and Production Corp partnered with Exxon and Texaco to drill 15 exploratory wells in the Bason by 1989.[1]

Since 2011 and after the advent of fracking, Shore has been securing leases from landowners for mineral rights on more than 80,000 acres in King George, Westmoreland, Caroline, Essex, and King and Queen counties. Shore plans to begin drilling for gas and oil before 2015. Any drilling in the Taylorsville basin would first require state review and permits, and would have added scrutiny because the work would be first of its type along Virginia’s coast, according to the Virginia Gas and Oil Board. Since the work would be in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, an environmental assessment would also be required. Shore said they expect to receive the permits to drill.[1]

Taylorsville Basin

It's been reported that "geologists say the Taylorsville Basin, which stretches from east of Richmond up through Prince George's County (Maryland), could hold up to 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. A Dallas energy company plans to tap into that basin by drilling on tens of thousands of leased acres south and east of Fredericksburg. And some local officials have expressed concerns about some of the chemicals used in fracking being injected into an area near the Chesapeake Bay."[3]

Citizen activism

Legislative issues and regulations

George Washington National Forest

As of September 2013 a proposal to restrict horizontal drilling in the George Washington National Forest is being debated by the U.S. Forest Service. A natural gas deposit - an extension of the Marcellus Shale - is believed to underlie approximately half of the national forest, much of it in Virginia. The headwaters within it contribute to the drinking water of at least 30 communities from Washington to Richmond, Virginia, according to the Forest Service.[4]

The Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, proposed drilling limits in 2011 to protect water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service also supported the prohibition on horizontal drilling. But the Forest Service and now is reconsidering after gas companies said the ban was unwarranted and would set a bad precedent. The Forest Service is expected to issue a new decision by November 2013.[5]

In November 2014 it was announced that a compromise was reached, in which oil and gas drilling would be allowed in the areas in the George Washington National Forest that are privately controlled. The deal means that 90% of land in the George Washington National Forest will be off limits to fracking. The New York Times reported, "The plan will allow drilling on 10,000 acres in the forest now leased for energy development and on 167,000 acres whose mineral rights are privately owned. Currently, there are no active gas wells in the forest or in surrounding private tracts."[6]

Land leases

It was reported in October 2013 that Texas energy company Shore Exploration and Production Corp., based in Dallas, which leased tens of thousands of acres east of Fredericksburg, Virginia was planning to begin fracking for gas and oil within 18 months. Since 2011, the company has been securing leases from landowners for mineral rights on more than 80,000 acres in King George, Westmoreland, Caroline, Essex and King and Queen counties.[7]

Citizen groups

Industry groups

Reports

Resources

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Rusty Dennen and Cathy Dyson, "Drilling for oil, gas planned east of Fredericksburg," Fredericksburg.com, October 12, 2013.
  2. "Fracking Limits for Virginia Forest Spark Debate on Water" Mark Drajem, Bloomberg, September 5, 2013.
  3. "Environmentalists urge Va. to begin crafting fracking rules" WTOP, December 5, 2014.
  4. "Fracking Limits for Virginia Forest Spark Debate on Water" Mark Drajem, Bloomberg, September 5, 2013.
  5. Jessica Goad, "The Oil And Gas Industry Wants To Start Fracking At The Source Of D.C.’s Water Supply," Climate Progress, Oct 21, 2013.
  6. "In Compromise Plan, Limited Fracking Is Approved for National Forest in Virginia" Trip Gabriel, New York Times, November 18, 2014.
  7. "Drilling for oil, gas planned east of Fredericksburg" Rusty Dennen, Cathy Dyson, Fredericksburg.com, October 12, 2013.

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