The George Washington "sits on the eastern edge of the Marcellus Shale formation, whose vast deposits of natural gas have touched off a drilling bonanza in Pennsylvania and West Virginia," Banerjee notes. "The dispute mirrors dozens around the country as hydraulic fracturing unlocks oil and gas previously considered out of reach. But this time, it has stirred concerns not only about water in rural communities but also about the drinking water of one of the nation's biggest metropolitan areas."
Virginia counties near the forest, such as Augusta and Rockingham, "boast some of the state's richest agricultural land, and many towns benefit from tourism tied to the forest," Banerjee writes. Nancy Sorrells, a historian of the region and former Augusta County supervisor, told her, "Local governments here are aware that their most important natural resource is their water." Sorrells and lawyers from the Southern Environmental Law Center said "huge trucks would navigate the sinuous roads into the mountainous terrain, forest land would be cleared for pipelines and hilltops would be flattened for compressor stations," as Banerjee puts it.