We need your help to protect healthy forests and our drinking water in the Shenandoah Valley by keeping the proposed ban on natural gas fracking on the George Washington National Forest.
The U.S. Forest Service is under intense pressure by the gas industry to abandon its proposal to prohibit horizontal drilling on the George Washington National Forest. This ban is intended to limit or prevent the riskiest fracking, with large volumes of water and chemicals, on any future federal oil and gas leases on this Forest.
Please tell Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who oversees the U.S. Forest Service, that the agency must stand firm. Local governments in the region, including Shenandoah, Rockingham, Augusta, Rockbridge, Boutetourt, and Bath Counties and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lynchburg and Roanoke, contacted the Forest Service to express support for limits on fracking. Also, the great majority (95%) of more than 53,000 public comments on the new GWNF management plan supported the well-considered ban on horizontal drilling.
Please also ask Secretary Vilsack to limit vertical gas drilling. The U.S. Forest Service proposed to make nearly the entire GW Forest available for vertical drilling in the draft plan. Since vertical gas wells are usually fracked, too, and since they can disturb fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, and other resources, the potential impacts of vertical gas drilling on the GWNF need to be more thoroughly studied, with public input, before opening these lands to drilling.
Protect the George Washington National Forest from destructive drilling
Dear [Decision Maker],
I support the US Forest Service's sensible proposal to protect forest resources and drinking water on the George Washington National Forest by prohibiting horizontal drilling on any future federal oil and gas leases in the new Forest Plan.
The Forest Service should stand firm. The well-considered ban, which is intended to limit or prevent high-volume hydraulic fracturing, was supported by the great majority (95 percent) of more than 53,000 public comments, as well as by many local governments adjacent to the Forest.The proposed ban on horizontal drilling will protect the direct drinking water source for 260,000 local residents and the headwaters of the James and Potomac Rivers which supply water to millions in cities in Virginia, safeguard fish and wildlife habitat, and preserve the forest recreation experience for the more than 1 million people who visit the George Washington National Forest each year. The gas industry has failed to demonstrate a commitment to apply the highest practicable environmental standards. Fracking has caused major impacts on the land and water resources of rural communities. It has created water and air pollution as well as excessive methane emissions, a far more damaging greenhouse gas than CO2. Without an effective and robust regulatory regime in place, countless resources across the Forest and downstream from the Forest would remain at high risk.
The draft forest plan also proposed to make nearly the entire GW Forest available for vertical gas drilling. The potential impacts of vertical gas drilling on the GW should be more thoroughly studied, with public input, before a decision is made. At a minimum, local drinking water supply watersheds, priority watersheds, and other sensitive natural, scenic and recreation areas should be made unavailable to drilling.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]