Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area; prohibition on oil and gas drilling. (SB48)

Introduced By

Sen. Richard Stuart (R-Westmoreland)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Prohibition on oil and gas drilling. Prohibits the drilling for oil and gas in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area. When the General Assembly enacted the Groundwater Management Act in 1973, it declared that the continued, unrestricted usage of groundwater is contributing and will contribute to pollution and the shortage of groundwater, thereby jeopardizing the public welfare, safety, and health. The Act recognized that the state has the right to the reasonable control of all groundwater resources in order to conserve, protect, and beneficially utilize the groundwater of the Commonwealth. The bill would apply to groundwater and the associated aquifers in the coastal plain of Virginia. The bill would also require the Department of Environmental Quality to adopt regulations protecting surface and ground water resources before the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy issues a drilling permit in those areas of Tidewater where such activity is allowed. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Failed


12/17/2013Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/08/14 14100454D
12/17/2013Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
01/20/2014Impact statement from DPB (SB48)
01/23/2014Impact statement from DPB (SB48)
01/30/2014Reported from Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources with substitite (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
01/30/2014Committee substitute printed 14103907D-S1
02/03/2014Constitutional reading dispensed (39-Y 0-N)
02/04/2014Read second time
02/04/2014Reading of substitute waived
02/04/2014Committee substitute agreed to 14103907D-S1
02/04/2014Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute SB48S1
02/05/2014Engrossment reconsidered by Senate (40-Y 0-N)
02/05/2014Reading of amendments waived
02/05/2014Amendments by Senator Stuart agreed to
02/05/2014Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute with amendments SB48ES1
02/05/2014Printed as engrossed 14103907D-ES1
02/05/2014Constitutional reading dispensed (38-Y 1-N)
02/05/2014Passed Senate (27-Y 12-N)
02/05/2014Reconsideration of passage agreed to by Senate (40-Y 0-N)
02/05/2014Passed Senate (28-Y 12-N)
02/07/2014Placed on Calendar
02/07/2014Read first time
02/07/2014Referred to Committee on Commerce and Labor
02/10/2014Impact statement from DPB (SB48ES1)
02/27/2014Tabled in Commerce and Labor


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 12 minutes.


Bernadette Barber writes:

I support this legislation. I live in the Northern Neck where Shore Exploration and Production has leased land in the Taylorsville Basin, which is where I draw my water for my family and farm. We have children, farm animals and crops that depend on good clean water. Hydraulic fracturing is not welcome in VA. There is no possible way of guaranteeing there will no mishaps during drilling. Our water is our life.

Kevin Roberts writes:

I support this bill. Protect the water supply. If you can't drink the water and breathe the air gas isn't gonna help anybody.

Susan Godman Rager writes:

I live in Westmoreland. We cannot afford to have the greed of a few ruin our water supply. Likely, if they get their way and frack for oil, they will do what the front company in WV did and bankrupt and leave us with no water and no recourse. It will make a mockery of the very sincere efforts of Virginia to save and restore the Bay and its tributaries if fracking is not stopped in its tracks. I not only live in Westmoreland, I am a real native, having been born here. I have a vested interest in keeping this place habitable. Those who have leased land to this project obviously expect to offshore somewhere habitable after this despicable activity has poisoned our communities. You can prevent this. You need to do this. In addition to the danger to the aquifer, communities out here experienced violent shaking from the Mineral earthquake recently (I was here then and can tell you about that). We do not need a repeat of Zanesville, Ohio, where earthquakes have been proven to have been caused by fracking there. Let these unprincipled greedy people take their ill-advised project somewhere else. We are done with this kind of greed. And we depend on you to keep our communities safe from its consequences. Thank you.

Adam Stevenson writes:

I would recommend that the Senators and Congressmen of Virginia pass HB 48 sponsored by Senator Stuart of Westmoreland. This bill is a common-sense proposal that would give the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality the authority to review mining applications in the Eastern Virginia Groundwater Management Area. This area is roughly defined as the counties east of I-95, and is unique because of the Potomac Aquifer in the Taylorsville Basin which runs from Virginia Beach in the South to Maryland in the North. This aquifer is critical for the water supply of millions of people, businesses, and farms. The fracking process that would access the shale oil is simply not guaranteed to be fail-safe. The process of drilling thousands of feet underground, and pumping high pressure water-chemical solutions into the bore in order to crack rock is simply not a simple single-variable system. This fracking process has been related to low-level seismic earthquakes and there is fear among scientists that the process could also lead to unwanted oil or gas migration to nearby aquifers, crack migrations that could lead to more extensive leakage, and large amounts of contaminated water that is often stored aboveground where it is at risk of leakage and contamination spread. Furthermore, it is estimated that only 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are in the deposit making it questionable that the economic advantages are even there to pursue, especially to justify what would be a risky endeavor in an area with a diminishing underground water supply.