Virginia County Votes to use Land Authority to Restrict Oil and Gas Development
King George County, VA – The county Board of Supervisors tonight voted to protect its residents and its landscape by restricting where in the county oil and gas exploration, including hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” could occur.
Using its land-use authority, the county updated its comprehensive plan to “discourage the location of mining and oil and/or gas operations, drilling and development in significant and sensitive rural, agricultural, and residential areas.”
The Board of Supervisors additionally amended the county’s zoning ordinance, using a variety of setbacks that leaves only 9 percent of the county available for drilling. The changes would also require potential drillers to get a special use permit from the county.
In doing so, the Board helped protect the people and rural character of King George County, as well as its water supplies and other important natural resources. The land-use changes will also limit the traffic, pollution, and noise that accompanies drilling and fracking in the county, which lies east of Fredericksburg and serves as the gateway to the Chesapeake Bay’s Northern Neck.
“We applaud the King George Board of Supervisors for taking this common-sense approach that will help protect the environment and the character of the county,” said Kathleen Harrigan, executive director of Friends of the Rappahannock. “This is an important step not just to protect the landscape of King George County, but also the Rappahannock River, a vital waterway for several Virginia counties, for recreation, and for the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”
King George and neighboring counties have felt increasing pressure from oil and gas companies interested in the Taylorsville Basin, a section of earth deep underground thought to contain oil or gas deposits. Shore Oil and Production Company has leased more than 85,000 acres of the Taylorsville Basin.
Kristin Davis, an SELC attorney, said these restrictions will not only protect the landscape, but will help protect the water supplies and public health.
“The Board of Supervisors has studied this problem for more than a year. Its decision to restrict drilling is supported by input from the community and numerous studies of the industry’s impacts in other places,” she said. “We encourage other localities to take this same kind of informed and thoughtful look at how gas drilling could affect their landscape.”
About the Southern Environmental Law Center:
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of more than 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org
About Friends of the Rappahannock:
Friends of the Rappahannock is a nonprofit, grassroots conservation organization whose goal is to maintain the water quality, living resources and scenic beauty of the Rappahannock River and its tributaries. The organization works with a wide variety of stakeholders to educate about the river and to advocate for actions and policies that will protect and restore the values that make the river so special. www.RiverFriends.org