Washington County VA

Planning Commission says it does not recommend hydrofracking in Washington County

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. - People living in Washington County, Virginia had the chance to speak up about hydraulic fracturing Monday night during a public hearing.

This debate has been going on for years and it heated up as the  Planning Commission reviewed a proposed ordinance, the Board of Supervisors drafted, to allow hydraulic fracturing county-wide by special exception permit.

Hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, is the process of pumping chemical-laced water into the ground to open cracks in the rock, allowing natural gas to flow out.

Almost every seat in the room was taken by someone who would be affected if it's allowed in the county.

Those people in support of the ordinance said they want this because it will bring job growth and energy independence.

"The international conflicts, more and more and more are coming down to who has control of energy," said Strother Smith, an Abingdon resident who supports gas drilling. "Right now the people who have control of energy are our enemies."

Those people against hydraulic fracturing said this revised ordinance doesn't offer them enough protection against possible pollution.

"There is a finite amount of gas so the short term financial gain is not worth the long term potential consequences of contaminating water," said Paul Gadola, a Damascus resident against gas drilling.

The ordinance only deals with zoning and includes no regulations. It would allow natural gas drilling in two agricultural districts that do not currently allow it.

The debate lasted more than two and a half hours. The Planning Commission decided with a 5-2 vote they do not recommend the Board of Supervisors pass this ordinance.

The ordinance will next go before the Board of Supervisors for a final decision on September 9.

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