National Parks Deserve to Be Protected from Oil and Gas Development

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

National Parks and Hydraulic Fracturing by NPCA, report cover

Theodore Roosevelt was our greatest conservation president. President Roosevelt’s boundless vision and determination resulted in a system of national parks that is the envy of the world, and has been called “America’s Best Idea.” Ironically, his namesake national park, which includes his North Dakota homestead, is currently facing a threat that could permanently degrade a patch of land that was supposed to be protected in perpetuity.

Across the nation, an oil and gas boom is taking place, largely through the utilization of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations buried deep beneath the surface. Wells have sprouted up on the outskirts of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and many more are planned there and across the nation, including near other National Park Service-managed lands like Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. But with this rapid boom, the negative impacts of large scale oil and gas development on national parks has largely been ignored. That is why the National Parks Conservation Association has released a new report on how fracking for oil and gas near national parks is already impacting these treasured places, and how impacts could increase unless we act now.

National Parks and Hydraulic Fracturing: Balancing Energy Needs, Nature, and America’s National Heritage is a comprehensive report on what large-scale oil and gas development adjacent to national parks does and could mean for these parks and the people who love and visit them. It details the known and suspected impacts of fracking on the environment, including harm to air, water, and wildlife—the things that make our national parks so special. It also provides five case studies that analyze national parks that are already in the middle of the oil and gas fracking boom: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Obed Wild and Scenic River.

About the Author

Former NPCA President Tom Kiernan

Tom Kiernan is former president of NPCA

  • Andrew

    Please stop the expansion of the fracking. I dont want to see our beautiful parks go to waste from the damage caused by the drilling.

  • Alice I. Kirk

    You can add Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the list of national parks that have their own “mini-guide” on the Traveler. Visit these pages and you’ll find information on hiking, lodging, camping, birding, and more.

  • Claude X. Harrison

    NPCA’s new report, National Parks and Hydraulic Fracturing , examines the impact of existing, proposed, and potential oil and gas development on America’s national parks and offers recommendations to ensure that future drilling safeguards public health and the environment. With five in-depth case studies, the report connects the dots on how fracking near national parks can impact the parks themselves.

  • Sterling N. Curtis

    Yet even the experts can’t predict fracking’s impacts. Will it contaminate the air we breathe in national parks? Will it harm native wildlife and the water and forests they depend on for survival? Will it damage the resources we value in our national parks? The answers are just beginning to emerge.