The Rappahannock River, which begins as a trickle outside Chester Gap and empties wide and deep into the Chesapeake Bay, was named this week one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers.
The Rappahannock received the designation by the conservation group American Rivers because of the threat fracking could pose to clean drinking water.
“County and state leaders must act now in order to ensure that the Rappahannock River and the state’s clean water supplies are protected from irreversible harm by any future fracking operations,” says the group’s Jessie Thomas-Blate.
There are presently 85,000 acres in four counties downstream from Rappahannock County leased for oil and gas development and hydraulic fracturing.
American Rivers and its partners are calling on residents and local governments in Westmoreland, Essex, Caroline, and King and Queen counties to decide whether the new industry “has a place in their communities” and then establish local land use ordinances to protect the Rappahannock and its tributaries.
“We encourage local citizens and officials to think long and hard about if, or how, they will allow fracking in their backyards,” said Kristin Davis, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
In addition, American Rivers is calling on the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate to uphold Virginia’s new drilling regulations that help protect rivers and clean drinking water from industrial gas development.
America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2017:
1: Lower Colorado River (Arizona, California, Nevada)
2: Bear River (California)
3: South Fork Skykomish (Washington)
4: Mobile Bay Rivers (Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi)
5: Rappahannock River (Virginia)
6: Green-Toutle River (Washington)
7: Neuse and Cape Fear Rivers (North Carolina)
8: Middle Fork Flathead River (Montana)
9: Buffalo National River (Arkansas)
10: Menominee River (Michigan, Wisconsin)