4-0 in the General Assembly

Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) and partners blocked four bills that would threaten water quality, public health, and safety.

On Thursday February 16, 2017, we learned that the final of four bills focusing on the exemption of fracking chemical disclosures from the freedom of information act was defeated in the Senate Agricultural, Conservation, and Natural Resources Committee.

HB 1678,  HB 1679, SB 1291, and SB 1292 all targeted new regulation passed in October 2016 that would require all fracking operations to disclose the names and concentrations of all chemicals used in their operations. If passed, these bills would have stripped the 2016 regulation of the requirement for public disclosure of these chemicals which would have put our local communities, infrastructure, and natural resouces at great risk.  "Without knowing the types of chemicals and concrentrations, local first responders and municipalities would have no chance to adequately prepare for any form of spill or emergency", said Bryan Hofmann, FOR Programs Manager.  "These types of chemicals require specialized personal protection equipment, hazmat training, and potentially more sophisticated medical facilities to treat any injuries. Without prior disclosure of potential chemicals, anyone involved with the operation and presevation of public health and safety would be unprepared and at risk", Hofmann said.

FOR has been working with partners like the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), Virginia League of Conservation Voters, and Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) for four years to ensure our local communities, environments, and the Rappahannock River achieves the highest level of protections from the impacts associated with fracking. We are so grateful to have such an amazing network of friends, partners, members, and supporters that came together to call, email, write, and personally visit their state elected officials to make their voice heard and maintain the requirements for the disclosure of fracking chemicals.

This is an excellent win for the River and all of Virginia but the work is far from over. We still have several counties in the Rappahannock River watershed with fracking leases without local codes and ordinances to protect their roads, schools, streams, farms, and rural character. FOR is committed to continuing to be the leading voice and active force for a healthy and scenic Rappahannock River and to work alongside our localities to maximize protections for the River.

If you have any questions or are looking for additional information please give our office a call at 540-373-3448.