Blog Post Nina Berlin Aug 3, 2015

Parks, Not Pipelines!

The permanent scars of energy transmission do not belong in our national parks, the natural landscapes that attract millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, parks all across the country are at risk of being damaged by oil and gas pipelines and electric transmission lines.

It’s a crisp day in late October as you hike your way up a steep stretch of the Appalachian Trail, hugging the bends of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The whistle of a cedar waxwing mingles with the crunching of leaves beneath your feet.

Coming to the summit of Three Ridges, a spectacular vista unfolds. Towering mountains bookend the rolling valleys. Speckles of brilliant orange and yellow foliage dot the landscape like candies. Then you notice the deforested gash of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

If you’re thinking that something doesn’t fit here, I agree.

The permanent scars of energy transmission do not belong in our national parks, the natural landscapes that attract millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, parks all across the country are at risk of being damaged by oil and gas pipelines and electric transmission lines.

Energy infrastructure proposals are popping up like weeds in our parks, and the potential harm is serious. Heavy machinery and development from construction causes erosion of hillsides and the heavy sedimentation of stream beds, damaging spawning habitat for species like the endangered Atlantic sturgeon of the James River. Changes in the landscape can cause a loss of biodiversity and an influx of invasive species. Corridor clearings frequently create a barrier to species movement, inhibiting wildlife migration and isolating animal populations. These projects also create light and noise pollution that diminish the pristine views that we’ve worked so hard to preserve for future generations. Even worse, oil and gas pipelines can explode or leak, threatening human health and safety in addition to the health of these natural spaces.

Shockingly, Congress is currently considering legislation that would make it easier to construct gas pipelines through national parks. You can visit NPCA’s website to speak out against this potentially damaging bill and ask your members of Congress to prioritize “parks, not pipelines!”

About the author

  • Nina Berlin Stanback Fellow

    Nina Berlin is a former Stanback fellow with NPCA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Office researching infrastructure threats to the parks.