Oil rigs could one day join the treetops in George Washington National Forest south of the nation’s capital.Despite protests from Virginia’s Democratic governor and environmental groups, the U.S. Forest Service announced this week it would make 177,000 acres – or about 17 percent – of the forest in Virginia available for leasing for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The practice would be allowed on about 167,000 acres where there are existing private mineral rights – in other words, sites where people, groups or companies own whatever oil, gas and other minerals sit beneath the soil. It would also be allowed on another 10,000 acres that have already been leased to oil and gas firms.
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