Home Energy and Environment Senator Scott Surovell Introduces Fracking Ban to Virginia Senate 

Senator Scott Surovell Introduces Fracking Ban to Virginia Senate 

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Great stuff from Virginia State Sen. Scott Surovell (D)

Senator Surovell Introduces Fracking Ban to Virginia Senate 

Mt. Vernon, VA — Senator Scott A. Surovell introduced SB 106 to ban the extraction of natural gas by the practice of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area (EVGMA). The EVGMA was created by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality in 2014 in order to protect the Potomac Acquifer which is effectively all of Virginia east of Interstate 95.  It stretches from southeast Virginia Beach, west into Southampton County, up the Virginia coast, along Interstate 95, and ending in eastern Fairfax County. Surovell represents approximately 220,000 people – most of whom reside in the northern part of the EVGMA. The entire aquifer stretches along the tidal plain from New York to South Georgia.

In 2014, a Texas-based energy company began leasing property to drill for natural gas on the Northern Neck and Middle Penninsula.  In November 2017, Richmond County became the second locality in the Commonwealth and the first locality within the Taylorsville basin to ban fracking.  They were later followed by several other counties between the Potomac and James Rivers.

Surovell highlighted the importance of water quality protection to his constituents. “Banning fracking in this region is another step we must take if we want to protect drinking water and the health of our community. Virginia has too much to lose by allowing energy companies to have free rein over our natural resources,” Surovell said. “The Taylorsville Basin sits below the drinking water supply for 4 million people and we allow anything that would jeopardize access to our drinking water.”

Friends of the Rappahannock Deputy Director Bryan Hoffman applauded the legislation. “Protecting our rivers and streams from potential pollution is absolutely crucial to the health of our environment. Banning fracking in our region is an important preventative step to protect and preserve our environment for future generations,” Hoffman said.

“Fracking has no place in Eastern Virginia, which is home to our state’s largest source of fresh groundwater – just one accident could contaminate an entire drinking water supply,” said Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. “We look forward to working with Senator Surovell and the new Conservation Majority to pass this commonsense ban, and are grateful for his continuing leadership protecting clean water in the Commonwealth.”

Surovell elaborated on his support for renewable energy. Surovell said “Virginia is home to 3 major watersheds.  Our decisions have a direct impact on the lives of people beyond the Commonwealth. Limiting the actions of energy corporations will prove our commitment to protecting our environment.”

Surovell introduced a fracking ban in 2018.  It was amended to a fracking moratorium and passed the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, but died on a tie vote on the Senate Finance Committee with bipartisan support.  This session, Surovell’s bill will be heard in an Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meeting in the 2020 legislative session which begins January 8. The bill language is below. A map of the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area, provided by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, is attached.

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Senator Scott A. Surovell represents parts of Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford Counties since 2015 and practices law, including traffic defense and personal injury, in Northern Virginia. Prior to his election to the Senate of Virginia, Surovell served six years in the House of Delegates including six months as Minority Caucus Chairman. Surovell lives in Mt. Vernon area of Fairfax County with his wife and four children.

 

Bill Text:

A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding a section numbered 62.1-256.2, relating to hydraulic fracturing; Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area; prohibition.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding a section numbered 62.1-256.2 as follows:

§ 62.1-256.2. Hydraulic fracturing; Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area.

No person shall conduct any hydraulic fracturing in the groundwater management area declared by regulation pursuant to the provisions of this chapter and known as the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area. For purposes of this section, “hydraulic fracturing” means the treatment of a well by the application of hydraulic fracturing fluid, including a base fluid and any additive, under pressure for the express purpose of initiating or propagating fractures in a target geologic formation to enhance production of oil or natural gas.