Protecting Parks from Fracking
“From the eastern boundary of Glacier National Park in Montana, visitors can throw a stone and hit any of 16 exploratory wells and associated holding tanks, pump jacks, and machinery used to force millions of gallons of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals into shale rock formations thousands of feet beneath the surface.” – James D. Nations, Ph.D., Vice President for NPCA’s Center for Park Research
The existence of wells and the infrastructure of fracking within a stone’s throw of Glacier National Park is unacceptable. Some have said we are powerless to prevent it because those wells are within the sovereign Blackfeet Nation. To that, I ask, does sovereignty extend outside a nation’s borders?
Some years ago, the proposed Cabin Creek mine in British Columbia was stopped, in part, because it was likely to pollute rivers flowing from Canada into the U.S. The same is likely to be true of groundwater outside the immediate proximity of those wells on Blackfeet land.
James D. Nations writes in “Fracking and National Park Wildlife” that a third of the nation’s national parks are within twenty-five miles of shale basins. This means that a great number of wildlife habitats are potentially at risk. These risks come primarily in the areas of habitat fragmentation, water quality and quantity, and noise and air pollution.
There’s an old fashioned Libertarian principle that may finally be taken seriously as we realize more and more that the Earth is one community. The principle is that you cannot do anything on your land that harms your neighbor or your neighbor’s land.
The dangers of fracking and other forms of pollution are not restricted to the property where the industrial development occurs. Air and water carry the negative impacts many miles away. This is not acceptable.
While we may not be able to quickly wean ourselves away from older coal fired power plants where no alternatives are quickly available, fracking is relatively new. The complete nature of its threats and risks are not yet known. We don’t need it any more than we need new coal fired power plants.
We need, I think, to look not only at the threats to Glacier and other national parks, but to the places where we live and work. If we take life seriously, we can no longer permit one company or one nation or one developer to do as he wishes on the land he owns or leases when his actions affect people, habitats and wildlife many miles away.
- Keep Xanterra Parks and Resorts out of Glacier National Park (Those doing the fracking next to Glacier are bidding to run Glacier’s historic hotels.)
- National Parks and Hydraulic Fracturing from the Center for Park Research (There’s a PDF available for download.)