Imperiled Parks

Laws Permit Oil and Gas Drilling in Iconic Public Lands

News that the U.S. Department of the Interior will allow drilling for oil and gas in a proposed wilderness area in southern Utah’s Desolation Canyon puts a spotlight on the practice. A report by the Center for American Progress reveals that 42 national parks are at risk, including 12 where oil and gas drilling is currently underway and 30 where it could be in the near future.

Among the threatened wild places are iconic American national parklands, including Grand Teton, in Wyoming, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes and Dinosaur National Monument, in Colorado, Santa Monica Mountains, in California, Glen Canyon, in Arizona, Carlsbad Caverns and Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico, Everglades and Gulf Islands, in Florida, Arches and Canyonlands, in Utah, and Glacier, in Montana.

The reality is that all public lands, including national parks and wildlife refuges, are potentially open to oil and gas leasing unless they are designated as “wilderness”, the highest form of land protection designated by the government.

Source: The Wilderness Society (

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