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.