5 National Parks At Risk Under Romney’s Energy Plan (Slideshow)

“If you’ve seen one redwood tree, you’ve seen them all,” then-Governor Ronald Reagan famously said.

It would appear that Mitt Romney embraces a similar philosophy. Romney recently released his energy plan, and the first point on the “Romney agenda” is: Empower states to control onshore energy development.

The plan reads: “We have an unprecedented opportunity to make our natural resources a long-term source of competitive advantage for our nation. If we develop these resources to the fullest, we will not only guarantee ourselves an affordable and reliable supply of energy, but also enjoy benefits throughout our economy.”

The premise of the plan is that energy independence is an achievable goal for America by 2020. However, as The New York Times points out, the simple truth is that a country that holds less than 3 percent of the world’s reserves but consumes more than 20 percent of the world’s supply cannot drill its way to energy independence. The only way to gain that independence is to develop alternative fuels and more efficient vehicles.

But surprise, surprise! Romney’s plan ignores the evidence, and passes control over to the states for energy development. And if states are determined to aggressively push fossil energy development, giving oversight of mining and drilling to them could put some of our National Parks at risk.

As The New York Times puts it:

The purposes [of federal public lands], under established law, are various: recreation, preservation, resource development.  States, as a rule, tend to be interested mainly in resource development.  In the energy future envisioned by Mr. Romney, that is precisely what would prevail.

As a fervent supporter and frequent visitor to our National Parks, I find this scary and depressing. Here, for example, are five parks that could be at risk under a Romney energy plan:

Arches National Park: Under George W. Bush, 77 oil and gas leases very close to National Parks were issued, including Arches. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar canceled these leases in January 2009, but that decision is not permanent. If the state of Utah was approached again by the oil and gas industry, they could well approve their requests, since Utah’s governor and legislature this year called for title to all 30 million acres of public lands  to “ help foster economic development .”

First Photo: DonkeyHotey; second photo: iweatherman

Bryce Canyon National Park: A strip coal mine is currently proposed on Bureau of Land Management lands ten miles from the park, but the National Park Service has warned that it would “likely result in  negative impacts to park resources and visitors,” as well as to air quality and scenery.  But under Romney’s energy plan, the state of Utah would be responsible for permitting and overseeing the new mine. And guess what? Utah already has already approved a coal mine right next to the proposed one.

Photo Credit: TheAmericanWestPhotography.com/flickr

Grand Canyon National Park: Even though Interior Secretary Ken Salazar protected one million acres around the Grand Canyon from mining last January, the decision applied only to new claims.  About 3,500 existing uranium claims may still be valid, which could result in up to 11 uranium mines on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands near the canyon.  With the state of Arizona in charge, these new mines could well be approved.

Photo Credit: YoTuT

Grand Teton National Park: The Forest Service is currently determining whether to allow the drilling of up to 136 natural gas wells in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which borders Grand Teton National Park. This drilling could have a number of impacts on the park, including affecting the air quality and the park’s wildlife. If this decision were turned over to the state under the Romney energy plan, the project could potentially go forward.

Photo Credit: mcdux

Theodore Roosevelt National Park: North Dakota is ground zero for the Bakken oil boom, and already drilling rigs can be seen from within the park. And even more could be built if a proposed bridge is permitted that could open up even more of the adjacent Little Missouri Grasslands (managed by the Forest Service) to oil and gas drilling.  If such drilling decisions were turned over to North Dakota, they would likely be approved.

Our National Parks are awesome natural treasures. Many people have fought hard to create them, and they don’t deserve the treatment they might get under the Romney plan.

What do you think?


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Photo Credit: fritzmb


Dale Overall

For October 20 today's Daily Action consists of signing a petition: America's National Parks in Jeopardy. The infographic describes the effects of funding cut backs which will affect the quality of the parks in present and future urging people to sign.

I signed the petition and wrote in a few things as well and got to the part where one puts in either the state or province before sending it off. Intriguing...the petition site then forgets to include the part for Canadian provinces so one can't sign it as only American states are provided. Why mention provinces if this isn't then attached. Too bad,so sad.

Dale Overall

That is quite amusing Michael K, "Emperor Harper!" We are all the poorer for having Empoorer Harper in charge of Canada. While Elaine A shows no concern about the future of her national park system under a republican government which will say "smile and Be Happy!" They will drill away exploiting the parks. Many Americans worry about what environmental damage will do to pristine areas.

The attitude of dig it up, ship it out when it applies to oil/gas/coal,/minerals/other natural resources is appalling. Surely there are other areas within the U.S. where companies can exploit these resources without tearing up national parks which exist to preserve wildlife and for people to enjoy both present and one would hope...future generations. Tourists from afar love to enjoy them as well and while Canada has many treasured parks there are certainly people from small geographic nations such as Japan who find the wide open spaces in both Canadian, American, Australian and other parks around the world fascinating and wonderful. Preserve these!

Shelly Peterson
Shelly Peterson5 years ago

VOTE OBAMA 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Michael Kirkby
.5 years ago

Elaine, for whom are you an apologist for?

Michael Kirkby
.5 years ago

The fact of the matter is that Romney is the Kochs' boy, bought and paid for. He is the next POTUS and somebody up there had better step in and help America. I shudder to think about the impact that Romney and Ryan will have in Canada as they influence "emperor" Harper. North America may never be the same.

Suzanne B.
Past Member 5 years ago

I have tried reasoned arguments, impassioned plea's and informed logic.....but, what it comes down to is; I simply cannot stand [nor trust] this man. Not to mention the fact that I am left with the feeling that both Romney and Ryan are automatons which were programmed in the back rooms of the Republican Party.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Cheryl I.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson5 years ago


Aud Nordby
Aud nordby5 years ago