Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas in Fredericksburg, Va.

An environmental concern in Central Virginia is the possibility of hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”). A Dallas energy company has paid for the rights to drill for gas in localities south and east of Fredericksburg. Fracking is destructive to the environment and causes pollution from the splitting of shale formations with pressurized water to get the natural gas.

550f87941a60f.image A law has been passed to allow fracking in Virginia but on May 8th Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, decided that localities like the ones around Fredericksburg can prevent drilling for natural gas. Sen. Richard H. Stuart of Virginia, whose 28th District would have a lot of the drilling had asked the Attorney General to make the decision.

The counties around Fredericksburg that don’t want the fracking had not known if they would have to follow the state law or if they could make their own local laws to prevent the fracking. The localities can put limits on the fracking according to a lawyer quoted in the recent article Herring says Va. localities have say over fracking.”

Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center said that Herring’s opinion “is grounded in a careful analysis of Virginia law” which makes it seem like it can be stopped. He also said that local governments may be able to make laws that “put limits on drilling operations to protect their communities and natural resources,”

Fracking is big in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and other states in the U.S. but not in Virginia. Those states are making a lot of money on fracking which is why Virginia is interested in it, but it is controversial because it causes pollution. Fracking uses sand, water and chemicals that pollutes drinking water and air. It also has resulted in major disasters with trains carrying the oil wrecking and catching fire, including one in Virginia.

Attorney General Herring, who was elected in 2013 is a supporter of the environment. He is concerned about the dangers of fracking in Virginia including “the impact on groundwater supplies, air pollution and truck traffic.” Herring said, “It is my opinion that the General Assembly intended to permit localities to prohibit fracking operations through duly enacted land use or zoning ordinances, and the code of Virginia so provides.” That means that localities may be able to avoid the state law that permits fracking if the counties around Fredericksburg like King George vote to ban fracking.

That would be bad new for the company that has paid for the land where they would drill for natural gas, Shore Oil and Exploration Corp. They have plans to drill in five counties in the Fredericksburg area but not all may oppose their drilling because it means a lot of money for those counties that do it.

No matter what, environmental groups like the Sierra Club will fight plans for drilling. They are particularly concerned about possible pollution of the Chesapeake Bay that is close to the Fredericksburg counties that would do the fracking. Once it is approved and drilling starts in the Fredericksburg area it may spread to areas closer to the Chesapeake Bay. Governor McAuliffe says that wouldn’t happen for a long time.

People have been working hard to clean up the rivers and the Chesapeake Bay in particular. They don’t want their efforts to “Save the Bay” from pollution to go to waste with drilling for natural gas through hydraulic fracturing to polluting it all over again.


  • Main, Ivy. “In Reversal, Virginia AG Says Localities May Ban Fracking.” Power of the People VA. N.p., 8 May 2015. Web. 13 May 2015. <http://powerforthepeopleva.com/2015/05/08/in-reversal-virginia-ag-says-localities-may-ban-fracking/>.
  • Szkotak, Steve. “Herring Says Va. Localities Have Say over Fracking.” PilotOnline.com. N.p., 8 May 2015. Web. 13 May 2015. <http://hamptonroads.com/2015/05/herring-says-va-localities-have-say-over-fracking>.