National Parks Are Threatened By Oil And Gas Drilling

Written by Jessica Goad

Here’s another example of how “the score card shows that the industry is winning,” as the NY Times put it last year. The National Parks Conservation Association today released a new report warning of the risks that oil and gas drilling pose to national parks.

In “National Parks and Hydraulic Fracturing:  Balancing Energy Needs, Nature, and America’s National Heritage” the group writes:

…these early indications of harm to America’s natural resources and national parks suggest the wisdom of a careful, considered approach to hydraulic fracturing, rather than blind complicity and a zealous rush toward monetary riches.

National parks are managed under a precautionary principle designed to err on the conservative side of any potentially negative impacts. The same principle should be applied to fracking activities on lands adjacent to our national parks.

One of the case studies on parks already impacted by drilling featured in the report is Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.  The Bakken oil boom has brought with it noise pollution, bright lights that ruin the night skies, and significant traffic on the way to the park.  See a short video about those impacts here:

The ways that oil and gas drilling can affect our national parks enumerated in today’s report include:

-  Noise from compressors, diesel engines, and traffic disturb the quiet we seek in parks

-  Visual blight on the landscape, such as oil wells and rigs that can be seen from inside parks

-  Lights from rigs, cell towers, and additional infrastructure that damage parks’ famous night skies

-  New roads, pipelines, and well sites that make it difficult for wildlife to live in the area

-  Massive amounts of water used in the fracking process that may affect surface and groundwater within parks

-  Diminished air quality inside of parks from the hazardous chemicals that drilling produces like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone

In addition to pointing out the impacts of drilling on national parks, the group proposes a number of policy recommendations, such as a “measured, thoughtful approach to fracking,” making the National Park Service a formal cooperating agency in decisions about drilling around parks, and implementation of strong federal oversight in the Bureau of Land Management’s upcoming hydraulic fracturing rule and regulations to cut pollution from oil and gas wells under the Clean Air Act.

Not only is drilling around national parks worrisome, as today’s report points out, but already there are 12 park units that have drilling inside of their borders, and 30 others that could have drilling in the future:

Oil and gas companies benefit from more special treatment than just the ability to drill in and around America’s most special places.  For example, they get $40 billion in tax breaks, low royalty rates on public lands, and continue to rake in astounding profits.

This post was originally published by Climate Progress.


Photo: jimmywayne/flickr


Kay Martin
Kay M4 years ago

thank you for the article and video, I enjoyed readin all of the over 100 comments from the members.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Mark Donners
Mark Donner4 years ago

There was an informative documentary recently on 65 square mile Easter Island (with the huge stone statues). Easter Island 600 years used to be covered with palm forests. A giant palm trees species lived there that protected the smaller trees from the wind. Even though the islanders were a primitive tribe, they had their own version of the corporate vampires. Those few tribal tyrants wanted political and economic denomination so they started cutting down all the trees mainly to build their corporate stone statues. Easter island's environment was devastated, that giant palm went extinct, and there's still no trees growing there. The natives started wars for the remaining scarce resources, Survivors restorted to living in caves to protect themselves from tribes of killers, until all of them died. The analogy is clear and the earth has become one big Easter Island, the political and corporate human psychos will make sure this time that everything on earth dies for their profit seeking power trips

Mark Donners
Mark Donner4 years ago

There's nothing sacred about "Capitalism", whatever government propaganda would like you to believe. The real definition of "Capitalism" is "lets some of us skip work and make tons of money from money (interest)) by degrading and enslaving the populace. Capitalism is a disease just like Communism is. They're both the same thing, both unworkable ideologies used by human psycho tyrants throughout history to enslave and lay waste to the earth for the profit of a few.

Paul M.
Paul M4 years ago

I'm not in favor of Oil And Gas Drilling in national parks, but that is US Capitalism.

To protect the environment we need to change the dialogue on the bigger stage. The irony is that purest capitalism requires supporting the needs of the consumers ... it's supposed to be consumer driven ... all consumers, not just the vocal "give me now!" consumers. In a civilized society this sometimes needs strong government intervention.

Magdika Cecilia Perez

we need to STOP USING OIL and GAS
and start using cheap or free energy technologies that were invented and suppressed by big business

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago

"There is something fundamentally wrong with treating the earth as if it were a business in liquidation."
~ Herman Daly

10 Commandments of Mother Earth

Marcel Elschot
Marcel Elschot4 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisle4 years ago

In the scifi adventure flick, the home planet of the House Harkonen(SP?) is Geidi Prime. Take a look at the movie and check out the planet. This is the future of our planet. Exploiting the resources without regard to the future well being of the planet is suicidal. The beautiful places we devestate just don't pop back. When they're gone, they're gone for good.

Marianne Good
Past Member 4 years ago

Hope the drilling will be less in the national park's areas.