Fracking to be permitted in GW National Forest

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ Fracking will be allowed in parts of the largest national forest on the East Coast under a new federal management plan. The U.S. Forest Service originally planned to ban fracking in the 1.1-million-acre George Washington National Forest. But energy companies cried foul after a draft of the plan was released in 2011. It would have been the first outright ban on the practice in a national forest. Robert Bonnie is the Agriculture Department’s undersecretary for natural resources and environment. He says fracking is already allowed at other national forests throughout the country, and the forest service didn’t want to change the policy. Environmental groups fear drilling could pollute mountain streams that provide drinking water to 250,000 people in the Shenandoah Valley.

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