Don Beyer Joins Patrick Hope in Opposing “Fracking” the GW National Forest

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    (UPDATE: Washington, D.C. City Council opposes fracking in George Washington National Forest. Now it’s time for Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, etc. to weigh in! – promoted by lowkell)

    I’m not planning on routinely posting 8th CD candidates’ press releases, but I wanted to highlight the one below from Don Beyer (see the “flip” of this post) because it’s an issue I care passionately about – as you should as well if you live in the 8th CD and use public water supplies to drink, bathe, etc. In late January, I wrote about a forum held at the Arlington County Central Library, in which representatives from DC Water, Earthworks (see video of a presentation by Dusty Horwitt of that organization), and the Sisters of Loretto warned of the serious risks to our water supplies arising from potential “fracking” in the GW National Forest. Think of what’s happened to rivers and water supplies in West Virginia and North Carolina (and to an extent Danville, Virginia) in recent weeks, and imagine something like that happening to the Northern Virginia and Richmond area water supplies, which serve millions of people. It’s a nightmare, to put it mildly.

    That’s why I’ve been so surprised at the lack of public concern, and the relative dearth of comment by Virginia elected officials {UPDATE: See letter from Representatives Connolly and Moran opposing fracking in the GW National Forest here), on this topic. For instance, of the 11 Democratic candidates running to succeed Jim Moran in Congress, the only one prior to today who’s commented on this – at least that I’m aware of – was Patrick Hope, back on January 29. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Hope urged that “fracking” in the GW National Forest be prohibited, given “mounting evidence that the process is inherently risky.” Hope also pointed out that the recent disaster in West Virginia “showed how dangerous it can be to use dangerous and largely unknown chemicals near drinking water supplies.” Hope was 100% correct, and I expected other 8th CD candidates to follow up soon thereafter with their own statements on this subject. But so far, again to my knowledge, I haven’t heard anything. Until today, that is, with Don Beyer’s statement (see the “flip”). Good for Don Beyer, following after Patrick Hope’s letter 5 weeks ago, but…what’s everyone else waiting for? We all need to fight back against even the possibility of this happening, and now’s the time to be doing it, as a decision could be imminent.

    Finally, I’d add that THIS is the type of leadership we should expect and demand from WHOEVER our next U.S. Representative might be. In coming weeks, I’m going to be watching closely to see how 8th CD candidates respond to pressing issues, just as if they were in Congress now. Certainly, Rep. Moran has been on top of things, very proactively and forcefully, and we should demand no less from his successor!

    March 5, 2014 (Alexandria, Va.) – Don Beyer, the former Lieutenant Governor and a congressional candidate in Virginia’s 8th district, announced today that he opposes horizontal drilling and the associated “fracking” in the George Washington National Forest.  The question of whether the natural gas extraction process will be allowed in the Forest stands before the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Beyer explained his opposition in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack.

    “Given the risk, insufficient data and potentially inadequate regulatory structure, I urge you to prohibit horizontal drilling in the George Washington National Forest until there is more thorough information on water contamination and a rigorous enforcement mechanism in place,” Beyer wrote.

    Beyer noted that many governments, elected officials and agencies oppose fracking in the Forest, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Fairfax County Water Authority, and that this position is in accord with USDA’s draft plan for the George Washington National Forest.

    • Jason

      Thanks to both Don and Patrick for speaking out on this issue. I would hope all candidates would do the same.