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K.G. to study up on fracking issue

For three months, King George supervisors have said they need to start talking about fracking—a drilling method that extracts oil and natural gas from the ground.

Come Tuesday, they’ll begin the discussion.

The state geologist and a division director from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will make a presentation.

They’ll talk about drilling regulations as well as the region’s geology and natural gas and oil deposits, said Mike Abbott, a spokesman for the department.

Also, King George County Attorney Eric Gregory will go through zoning ordinances already in place regarding oil and gas drilling—and what, if any, changes the county can make to them.

King George supervisors started the fracking discussion—wondering what they could or should do about it—as the issue develops in the region.

The Texas-based company Shore Exploration and Production Corp. wants to drill for gas and oil in the Taylorsville basin, an area just south of Fredericksburg.

They may use fracking, a process in which various chemicals are injected into the ground to fracture rocks, which releases oil and natural gas.

Shore has leased more than 84,000 acres in five counties for drilling. Of that amount, 10,443 acres are in King George County, according to the Friends of the Rappahannock, which held workshops in December to address environmental concerns, such as water contamination.

King George Supervisor Ruby Brabo expressed some of the same concerns and asked fellow board members in October what the county could do, in terms of its own ordinances and the state code.

Supervisors later asked Gregory to look into those issues. They also wanted to hear from officials with the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy because that agency oversees the permitting process for drilling.

Supervisors mentioned the possibility of a public meeting on fracking, but said earlier this month they would wait until after Tuesday’s session to decide if it was needed.

Meanwhile, Brabo started making plans in the fall to have one of her quarterly town-hall meetings focus on fracking.

She’s scheduled such a session from Jan. 29, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Dahlgren campus of the University of Mary Washington and has lined up several speakers.

Former Del. Albert Pollard will make a presentation with Friends of the Rappahannock, just as both did during December workshops in Bowling Green and Montross.

Two Rockingham County officials will talk about changes they made to their zoning ordinances when companies wanted to drill there.

Also, a representative from the Southern Environmental Law Center will address the state code.

She said all county residents, as well as her board colleagues, are invited.

“We are providing an opportunity for residents to educate themselves on the topic of fracking and a forum where they can dialogue and ask questions,” she said.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

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