Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Limits on Fracking in King George County

On Tuesday, August 16th 2016 the Prince George County board members unanimously voted to amend their zoning ordinance and Comprehensive Plan to limit fracking. The county had spent almost two years studying the issue. Prince George County became the first in what’s known as the Taylorsville basin, a five-county area east and south of Fredericksburg, to put restrictions on hydraulic fracking.

The restrictions are intended to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents—as well as drinking water and other resources of King George. The board imposed strict limits on natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing known as fracking. The new ordnance states that no drilling could be done 750 from resource protected areas (as defined in the Chesapeake Bay Act) , such as rivers and creeks, as well as roads, buildings and schools. Under those guidelines, drilling could take place in only 9% of the county. This is not a ban, but a significant limitation. .

I was a member of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) committee that developed the VASWCD policy limiting fracking that was adopted by a vote of our membership. At the time of the last legistative session DMME was still in the midst of the regulatory process for oil and gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing; however, HB 1389 and SB 706 bills that sought FOIA exemptions to DMME for chemical 'trade secrets' used in the hydraulic fracturing process were introduce. HB 1389 was tabled until 2017 session and SB 706 was pulled by its sponsor. It is important that no company be exempt from DMME disclosures and that localities be able to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents though zoning and their Comprehensive plan.