The oil and gas industry is already cozy with Washington, but soon they might be neighbors. Fracking companies want to move in to the George Washington National Forest. That forest is one of the largest undeveloped areas east of the Mississippi, and it also supplies water to the DC metro area. In the coming weeks, the U.S. Forest Service must decide whether or not to allow fracking in the National Forest, and they are facing mounting pressure from energy industry lobbying groups. The American Petroleum Institute has called the Forest Service's ban on drilling “plainly unsupported and absurd,” and companies like Chesapeake Energy, Halliburton, ConocoPhillips, and others have criticized the ban as well.
These companies are itching to get their hands on the natural gas deposits under the forest, even if it means destroying one of our national treasures, and contaminating the water supply for nearly nine million people. Of course, the oil and gas industry argues that they can drill for natural gas in “an environmentally responsible manner” - just like they promised in areas all around our nation that are now suffering from toxic chemicals being released into the ground, air, and water.
The fact is, even if there are no spills or accidents, the fracking process still will have a devastating impact on the forest. Water withdrawals, sediment pollution, trucking traffic, and air pollution would harm wildlife, and destroy the local recreational economy. Residents and anti-fracking activists are begging the Forest Service to protect George Washington Nation Forest, as well as all the national lands in our nation. These lands, our commons, belong to the people of our nation, and they should be off limits to the oil and gas industry that would inevitably destroy them.
The Thom Hartmann Program weekdays 3 PM to 6 PM on WWRL 1600.