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West Virginia To Allow Fracking Underneath The Ohio River

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West Virginia is selling hydraulic fracturing or fracking rights under the Ohio River, and the effects of that decision will be monitored by the other states in the Ohio River Valley.

The Ohio River isn’t actually in Ohio—the state line is mostly the western and northern bank, which means West Virginia controls what’s underneath the river. The state is now leasing drilling rights, and West Virginia spokesman Josh Jerrall tells the Columbus Dispatch his state needs the money. Jerrall, citing successful under-river drilling elsewhere, says the practice is safe.  

Should something go wrong, there is a water testing system on the river from Pittsburgh to the Mississippi that uses chemical signatures to find pollutants.

“The system is locations where we monitor water for unanticipated organic compounds that might be related to a spill,” said Lisa Cochran of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation District, a consortium of the states in the Ohio River watershed.

West Virginia is negotiating with three companies for drilling rights under the Ohio. Horizontal fracking technology has opened up the U.S. oil and gas industry to new profits by allowing companies to drill down, and then turn and drill horizontally beneath the ground in a single well.