Oil, gas drilling permits under review by state agencies

virginia-blue-oversizeGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced Wednesday that two Virginia agencies have signed an agreement on coordinating environmental reviews of potential permits for oil and gas drilling in the Coastal Plain that includes Tidewater.

The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy regulates oil and gas drilling, and the Department of Environmental Quality ensures the protection of people’s health and the environment. The agencies have committed to ensuring a transparent process that includes a thorough environmental impact review and incorporates public comment.

“This agreement recognizes the unique environmental challenges of oil and natural gas development in the Coastal Plain,” Governor McAuliffe said. “As Virginia continues to seek development of energy resources, we also are focusing on protection of our water and other resources.”

The agreement will help the agencies and the public address the distinctiveness and complexity of the Coastal Plain aquifer system, including the Potomac Aquifer, which supplies water for about half of Virginia’s population for drinking, agricultural use and industrial use.

deq and DMME will communicate closely on activities related to permit applications, environmental impact assessments, and involvement by local governments and the public. The agencies also will develop a process for addressing the potential cumulative environmental impacts from multiple permits for oil or gas drilling.

“This Memorandum of Agreement is a crucial step forward in our efforts to protect the Potomac Aquifer and ensure we are responsible stewards of the Northern Neck’s natural resources,” said Senator Richard Stuart.  “I am grateful for the leadership Governor McAuliffe has shown on this important issue.”

To read the entire Memorandum of Agreement visit http://1.usa.gov/1urLult.

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