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Virginia Advisory Panel Reviews Fracking Process, Chemicals

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An advisory panel examining Virginia's rules on fracking for natural gas is focusing initially on the chemicals that energy companies use in the process.

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy held the panel's inaugural meeting in Richmond.

The panel consists of industry representatives, environmental officials and local officials, who discussed at length what energy companies should be required to disclose when they use hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Fracking involves the use of chemicals and water to free natural gas reserves beyond the reach of conventional drilling.

Industry officials say the drilling technique is not harmful to the environment. Critics counter that it is a threat to air quality and water supplies.

The review comes amid growing interest by energy companies in the Taylorsville Basin in eastern Virginia. It contains 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

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