‘Fracking’ on Conserved Land?

VOF Takes a Second Look

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) is an important state public agency that has taken part in conserving land in the Commonwealth since 1966. Today, VOF is the largest easement holder in Virginia, and PEC is proud to have partnered with them over the decades.

Over the past two years, however, VOF reviewed and approved a number of new easements permit oil and gas drilling—including the potential for hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”)—in areas that have little to no history of energy extraction. PEC was concerned because we believe that allowing this type of industrial mineral extraction on conserved land is contrary to the purpose of most easements. Given the potential long-term environmental impacts, we felt that a policy that explicitly allows for industrial gas drilling on conserved land didn’t make sense.

So, we sent an alert about the issue to our email list—asking folks to send VOF a note of concern about allowing gas and oil development on conserved land. More than 350 people sent in letters!

A Big ‘Thank You’ to VOF

Thanks to the flood of letters, VOF’s Board responded quickly, deciding to stop approving easements that could allow oil and gas development until they’ve had a chance to review their policy. They plan to bring the public into the discussion, do more research, and then revisit the issue at their next board meeting in March.

“We appreciate that VOF took a second look at this important policy decision,” said PEC President Chris Miller, “and we look forward to continuing our work with them on land conservation in Virginia.”

This article was featured in our Winter 2013 Member Newsletter, The Piedmont View.