Citing assurances from federal officials, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said fracking for natural gas will not be allowed in the George Washington National Forest.
"I won't allow it as long as I'm governor," McAuliffe told the inaugural meeting of a climate change panel he created this summer. "We made it clear to everyone we will not allow fracking in our national forest. I'm not going to allow it."
The Forest Service initially proposed a ban on fracking in the forest, but it was met with opposition by the energy industry. Opponents fear the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will bow to the industry pressure. The decision rests with the USDA, which oversees the Forest Service.
Environmental and conservation groups have rallied against any fracking in the forest, which lies primarily in Virginia but also includes a sliver of West Virginia. They fear polluting the headwaters of a primary water source for the region and the industrial footprint drilling would bring.
The science on the impact of fracking has not been conclusive.
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