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Sunday, August 18, 2013
The oil and gas industry claims that opening the George Washington National Forest to drilling and fracking is the best choice for our children’s future. I imagine most people who have visited the GW will think that protecting a beloved forest where many have learned to hunt, fish and camp is what’s important for future generations.
Greg Kozera accurately describes the GW as a beautiful, multiuse forest — as he makes the case to sacrifice that for a single industrial use. When I envision the future, I want the same trails, views and trout streams to be enjoyed by families for years to come, without those landscapes scarred by drilling sites, access roads, heavy truck traffic and pipelines.
Clean water should be a top priority for this and future generations as well, and the GW is a source of drinking water for more than 260,000 people. The industry makes the highly questionable claim that no water contamination has been proven, but families from Pennsylvania and West Virginia who’ve seen shale gas drilling and fracking come to their communities paint a very different picture of what it can do to drinking water, streams and rural lands. Contrary to the assertion that fracking has happened for decades, this type of horizontal shale gas drilling and high-volume fracking has occurred only in the past few years, and we are just beginning to study the risks.
While the negative impacts are clear, the potential benefits are questionable at best. This is not a question of energy independence. The forest’s location on the edge of the Marcellus Shale makes it unlikely drilling will be viable, so the GW will not impact our country’s energy supply in the short or long term. Let’s make a decision that our children will be proud to inherit when it’s their turn to care for their forest.
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