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Va. residents back horizontal drill ban in U.S. park

Tuesday - 4/24/2012, 3:41am  ET

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginians who commented on a new management plan for the George Washington National Forest support a proposed ban on a much-criticized type of natural gas drilling in the park's 1 million acres.

Shenandoah Valley Network and Land, Air, Water Stewardship Action Group analyzed the comments. They found that of 6,700 comments submitted by Virginia residents, 70 percent supported a ban on horizontal drilling for natural gas within the national forest.

Also known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, the process pumps chemicals, sand and water into shale to separate natural gas from rock. Critics say the process threatens groundwater supplies and air quality.

Approximately half of the George Washington National Forest is atop the Marcellus shale formation, a vast deposit of natural gas.

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