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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Supervisors send concerns to state panel

The King George Board of Supervisors agreed Aug. 5 a resolution be changed so it can be sent to a regulatory advisory panel instead of directly to area state legislators, but with copies also going to the legislators to keep them informed of the county’s intentions.

The primary intent of the board’s proposed resolution is to request existing state law be amended to add the same type of in-depth state regulatory review and prior to any natural gas drilling in the area, as it currently requires for oil drilling.

The revised resolution will be back on the board’s Aug. 19 meeting agenda. The area legislators who will be copied on it are Sens. Ryan McDougle and Richard Stuart and Delegate Margaret Ransone.

Supervisor Chairman Joe Grzeika said he spoke to Ransone about the issue and she advised the board’s proposed resolution first be sent to an advisory group of the Department of Mines, Minerals & Energy, called the DMME Gas and Oil Regulatory Advisory Panel.

“That’s the process in place to address the issue right now with regard to fracking,” Grzeika said. “We should have it go through the process that has already been set up by the governor and the legislature and we wouldn’t be missing that opportunity to not have it in that report and not get it enacted.”

Since January, King George has taken a lead among the localities in the region in fact-finding about fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation so it can be extracted.

The county is keeping abreast of state regulations and planning to amend the county’s zoning ordinances and comprehensive plan for land use to lessen the potential impacts of fracking, should it actually be permitted by the state in King George.

That’s demonstrated by the fact Eric Gregory, county attorney is one of the nine members on the state’s regulatory advisory panel, along with one citizen representative and the most of rest representing state agencies or organizations.  

Grzeika said Ransone relayed her understanding that the advisory panel is expected to extend its meetings through the fall with a final report to likely by the end of the year. The report is supposed to be done prior to the next session of the state’s General Assembly, which begins in January.  

Gregory last week said the current mission of the advisory panel is “strictly focused” on a review of the gas and oil regulations.

“We are not tasked currently with making any recommendations for legislation or to amend legislation, but that issue, and particularly this code section has been brought up at one or two meetings,” he said
Grzeika stated to his colleagues: “I’d like to see us push the bureaucrats a little bit. I think the recommendations, although it may not be chartered in their mission, would be accepted and have value in their end report.”

Grzeika also said if the panel does not take up the issue, the county still can pursue its focus by asking the three local state legislators to sponsor legislation to amend the section of state law in question. Supervisors Dale Sisson and Ruby Brabo said they both agreed with directing the resolution to go to the panel and Supervisor Jim Howard concurred.

“We need to ensure we are working in lockstep with our delegation if that’s her recommendation,” Sisson said

The board wants the existing state law to be amended to provide the same state regulatory review for natural gas drilling in the Tidewater region as it currently requires for oil drilling.

For the applicable law, Tidewater is defined as including King George and the rest of the localities that touch on the Taylorsville Basin, an ancient geologic formation deep in the earth that contains shale believed to contain some oil and natural gas.

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