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If there's any reason why you should care about the 2013 Virginia Governors Race, I have one word for you: fracking.  You may not be crazy about Terry McAuliffe (D. VA) but at least he's right about this:

Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s Democratic nominee for governor, launched his environmental protection policy platform Thursday during a campaign stop in Norfolk, pledging to direct the Department of Environmental Quality to work with local communities and businesses in protecting the Chesapeake Bay, its wildlife and its tributaries.

In an effort to protect Virginia’s coastal communities, McAuliffe would also convene a bipartisan Climate Change Adaptation Commission of policy makers, scientists, conservationists and industry reps to put together a plan to combat rising sea levels.The platform also opposes hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the George Washington National Forest and would continue the moratorium on uranium mining.

The former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who unveiled his plan at a local Norfolk seafood wholesaler, says his goal is to protect and preserve at least 400,000 acres of open natural space in the Commonwealth over four years. - Fredericksburg Patch, 8/16/13

McAuliffee's opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R. VA), is a anti-science zealot, as climate change scientist Michael Mann describes him, and is also a huge fan of fracking:

Environmentally conscious Virginians were handed another reason to vote against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday after he told a Roanoke-area group in Troutville that he was a proponent of hydraulic-fracking for natural gas in the George Washington National Forest.

While I can’t do justice to the vast number of consequences at stake in the debate over whether or not to allow hydraulic-fracking in the George Washington National Forest, water supplies and overall degradation of the forest are arguably two of the biggest issues at play.

The George Washington National Forest contributes to the drinking water of around 260,000 people and as The Atlantic reported recently, hydraulic-fracking has been seen by its critics “as an environmental menace to underground water supplies…” - Examiner, 5/9/13

Cuccinelli is clearly in the minority on fracking the George Washington National Park whereas McAuliffe truly speaks for the majority of Virginians on this issue:

I saw this online poll on the Roanoke Times website, and was pleasantly surprised to see that 80% OPPOSE fossil fuel "fracking" in the George Washington National Forest. True, it's not a "scientific" poll, but still, it's encouraging as far as it goes. The fact is, this should not be a difficult call, given that the GW and Jefferson National Forests contain 230,000 acres of old-growth forest, "over 50 species of trees and over 2,000 species of shrubs and herbaceous plants," and "are popular hiking, mountain biking, and hunting destinations." In addition, as this website explains, "More than 4.5 million Virginians rely on drinking water from the Potomac and the James River, which originate on the GWNF," and "fracking would put those "critical drinking water resources at risk."

Given all that, nobody in their right mind would actually support fracking in the GW National Forest, right? Think again. That's right, guess which idiot supports fracking up the GW National Forest? You got it, our old fossil fuel friend Ken Cuccinelli, who never met a forest, stream, river, ecosystem, or planet he didn't want to trash (in service of his paymasters - the Koch brothers, CONSOL Energy, Big Coal, etc.). In contrast, Terry McAuliffe opposes fracking the GW National Forest, as does the Virginia Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Potomac and Shenandoah Riverkeepers, the Virginia Conservation Network, and pretty much anyone else with any sense. - Blue Virginia, 8/14/13

The debate about fracking the George Washing National Forest has been going on since the ban was put in place in 2010:

While the ban focuses on horizontal drilling, it also effectively would bar modern fracking, a method in which large quantities of pressurized water, sand and fluids - including some toxic materials, such as hydrochloric acid - are injected into mining wells to break up stubborn rocks and allow natural gas to escape for harvesting.

This new type of "hydro-fracking" requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per well. It has proved successful in tapping previously inaccessible gas deposits in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and other states. But its environmental and social impacts have been highly contentious and still are being sorted out.

Among environmental groups, fracking has become a new bogeyman. Activists in several European countries are demanding an end to the practice altogether, and American conservationists warn of drinking water contamination, the release of greenhouse gases such as methane, spills of polluted groundwater, and shattered landscapes.

In the George Washington forest, opponents say that drinking water for more than 247,000 residents in nearby towns and counties would be at risk, as well as for millions of others in metro areas farther downstream, such as Richmond and Washington. Those freshwater streams and reservoirs all drain into the James River and Potomac River watersheds, which later empty into the Chesapeake Bay.

In the eastern United States, fracking occurs mostly in a huge saucer-shaped geological feature known as the Marcellus Shale. This underground layer cake of stone and mineral brushes the western edges of Virginia on a line roughly defined by Interstate 81.

The Virginia piece is considered thinner and less productive than in other states - and does not come close to the sandy, watery geology beneath Hampton Roads.

Being on the outer rim, wells do not require as much pressurized water to prime and often utilize nitrogen instead of toxic fluids, but their strike-it-rich success is limited, said George Kozera, president of the Virginia Oil and Gas Association, a trade group.

"Not many people are going to drill on the edge when you can drill in the middle" of the Marcellus Shale, in states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Kozera said. - Virginia Pilot, 6/2/13

Not to mention fracking the George Washington National Forest isn't good for business:

The treasured GW helps support Virginia’s multimillion-dollar tourism and outdoor recreation industry, as more than 1 million people annually come from around the country — and from next door — to hike its picturesque vistas, fish trout streams in the headwaters of the James River, bike winding trails, and hunt and camp in favorite family spots.

It’s hard to imagine a less suitable place for industrial gas drilling and fracking.

Shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) involve pumping millions of gallons of water, usually mixed with known toxic chemicals, deep underground to crack open shale rock containing natural gas. Reports of gas leaks and wastewater polluting drinking water wells, rivers and streams elsewhere in the country raise red flags about the risks.

Although the industry often disputes these risks, there can be little debate that drilling and fracking in the GW would have awful impacts on the land. This is a major industrial activity, requiring clear-cutting and bulldozing to build well pads and potentially hundreds of miles of access roads with heavy truck traffic and pipelines, carving up the national forest and disrupting adjacent farms and forestlands. Contrast this image with the undisturbed nature the GW now provides, which greatly enriches this region’s quality of life. - Sarah Francisco, The Roanoke Times, 8/11/13

I hope I gave you a reason to at least like McAuliffe a little bit rather than just "hold your nose" and vote for him.  He may not be perfect but the environment, especially when it comes to fracking, is a huge issue in this campaign and despite what you think about McAuliffe as a whole, on this issue, he's not the "lesser of two evils".  He truly represents not only the majority of Virginians on this issue but also proves he's the good guy when it comes to protecting Virginia's forests and making the state greener.  Cuccinelli is a right-wing psychopath who is in the pockets of the Koch brothers and the energy industries.  There clearly is a good guy and a bad guy on this issue and McAuliffe is the good guy here.  That's why billionaire environmentalist, Tom Steyer, is getting involved to help McAuliffe defeat Cuccinelli:

Later on Tuesday, Cuccinelli visited Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown’s Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

A barrage of anti-Cuccinelli television ads were set to greet him on three stations in Roanoke, according to NextGen Climate Action’s Mike Casey, a spokesman for California billionaire Tom Steyer, who is funding the ads.

Casey said the ads will ask whose side Cuccinelli is on — the Virginia landowners or out-of-state energy companies.

Steyer already has spent about $400,000 on ads opposing Cuccinelli. - News Advance, 8/15/13

Here's a little more background info in how Steyer got involved in this race:

The billionaire freely acknowledged that he was a newcomer to Virginia, but in a whirlwind tour of Richmond last week, he introduced himself to a number of prominent figures in the state political and clean-energy communities.

Steyer met in Virginia's capital city Thursday with a collection of climate activists and another group of about 20 energy executives. One of those executives—Mike Healy of Skyline Innovations, who invited Steyer to Richmond in the first place—delivered a letter signed by several colleagues asking that Steyer use his financial firepower in the governor’s race.

The consensus in that meeting, Steyer said, was that the advanced-energy sector could pack a much bigger punch in state politics if it were better organized politically and more deliberate about pushing the message that green policies can translate into jobs. (And, it goes without saying, if a deep-pocketed out-of-state figure would be willing to deliver a nuclear-level strike against a politician like Cuccinelli.) - Mother Jones, 8/5/13

The only way to get the message across that the American people care about battling climate change and dangerous drilling techniques like fracking is to defeat climate deniers like Cuccinelli.  If you would like to donate or get involved with McAuliffe's campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, Knowledge Democrats, Virginia Kos, Youth Kos 2.0, LatinoKos, Climate Hawks, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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