Skip to main content

U.S. Forest Service keeps Virginia open to energy investment

Michael D. Ward | 804.225.8248 |

RICHMOND, Va., November 18, 2014 – The Virginia Petroleum Council (VPC) Executive Director Michael Ward commended the U.S. Forest Service on adopting a management plan for the George Washington National Forest that will not prevent the state from pursuing responsible energy development, utilizing hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, on public lands.

“The success of domestic natural gas production depends on our ability to produce energy from shale through hydraulic fracturing, and the industry is committed to ensuring that it will continue to be employed in a safe and responsible manner,” said Ward. “Natural gas is an enormously versatile fuel that helps power our nation’s economy. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is helping to unlock the tremendous economic and job creation benefits that Virginians, and all Americans, need and want.”

Hydraulic fracturing was first used commercially 65 years ago, and has been used in approximately 1,800 wells in Southwest Virginia since the 1950, according to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME). More than 5,600 coal bed methane wells are producing natural gas by hydraulic fracturing or other extraction methods in the Commonwealth. Operations that utilize hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling support more than 18,000 jobs in Virginia and this number is projected to rise to more than 38,000 in 2035, according to a study by IHS.

“The industry is creating jobs throughout the supply chain in Virginia and throughout the country that pay about double the average salary for all industries,” said Ward. “Thanks to innovations in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, America’s potential as an energy superpower is growing, and businesses of all types in the Commonwealth are growing with it.”

Hydraulic fracturing is regulated under a number of federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The method is also rigorously regulated at the state level, where local officials develop standards based on the unique geology and hydrology of their regions. In most cases, hydraulic fracturing is conducted well below ground – up to a mile in some locations – separated from groundwater sources by thousands of feet of impermeable rock. The fracturing mixture is 99.5 percent water and sand, and the chemicals making up the remaining 0.05 percent are publically disclosed.

The VPC is a division of API, which represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 600 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry also supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy.