Oil and Gas Report
Spoiled Parks: The 12 National Parks Most Threatened by Oil and Gas Development
The 12 Most Threatened National Parks
Drilling policies put in place by the Trump administration are accelerating leasing in national park landscapes and eliminating vital environmental protections. Without immediate action to counter these policies, the parks will suffer long-lasting harm to their natural, cultural and economic values.
Chaco Culture National Historical ParkRead more about Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Hovenweep National MonumentRead more about Hovenweep National Monument
Mesa Verde National ParkRead more about Mesa Verde National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National ParkRead more about Theodore Roosevelt National Park
By the numbers:
2,500 Square miles of a methane hot spot above the region
316,076 Acres that would be protected by the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act
5,000+ Cultural sites currently unprotected in the Chaco region
Canyonlands National ParkRead more about Canyonlands National Park
Rocky Mountain National ParkRead more about Rocky Mountain National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park & PreserveRead more about Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
By the numbers:
0 Days Utah BLM allowed the public to review environmental analysis for leases covering 134,000 acres near the park
$2 Price paid per acre by oil and gas companies for more than 40 parcels near Canyonlands
$1 BILLION Amount national parks contributed to Utah’s economy in 2018
By the numbers:
31% Percentage of the mule deer population lost since 1991
400% Percentage increase in applications for permits to drill in the last five years according to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Commission
242 The record-breaking number of miles traveled by a mule deer that holds the record for the longest documented land migration in the lower 48 states.
By the numbers:
1.2 million Acres proposed for new oil and gas development across California
2,739 Days that air quality in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks was rated “unhealthy” between 1993-2014. Los Angeles had 2,443 bad air days during the same period
8% Percentage of the average drop in visitation to national parks during poor air quality days
National parks have become increasingly threatened by oil and gas development as a result of this administration’s acceleration of drilling within park landscapes and its aggressive rollback of environmental safeguards. To combat these threats and ensure parks are protected for current and future generations, NPCA is advocating for a stronger role of the Park Service in leasing decisions, increased protections in specific park landscapes, curbing of fossil fuel extraction to mitigate effects of climate change and safeguarding of our bedrock environmental laws.
National parks are ground zero for some of the biggest impacts of climate change: Glaciers are melting, air quality is deteriorating, wildlife migration patterns are changing and plants are stressed by rising temperatures. Fossil fuel extraction is a major contributor to climate pollution. As part of a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect our national parks, we must curtail or eliminate extraction of fossil fuels on public lands. Such policies could include increasing the amount of conservation lands protected by the United States, implementing climate change mitigation strategies within the land management agencies, prioritizing nonfossil renewable energy development and limiting the number of lease sales and available acreage for lease.
National parks are not islands of conservation. They depend on healthy ecological connections to the lands and waters that surround them. Air, water and wildlife not only move freely in and out of parks, they also provide invaluable resources for communities and the larger park landscape. If we fail to protect these resources at the landscape scale, both parks and communities suffer the consequences. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act are all crucial to the protection of America’s national parks, particularly in areas with immense oil and gas development. Attempts to roll back conservation laws, regulations and policies are direct threats to all parks, especially those that are already vulnerable because of oil and gas drilling.
If this administration continues prioritizing its reckless oil and gas agenda over conservation, wildlife and local economies, America’s public lands will be irreparably harmed. We are already seeing the damage as the natural and cultural landscapes are being scarred and trampled. These are not problems that can simply be fixed after the fact; they must be addressed now. Americans must call on Congress to act now to protect our national parks from runaway oil and gas development. Join NPCA in fighting to protect these special places now and for future generations.
This 2019 report was last updated in Fall of 2020.