National Parks: Open for Drilling?

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President Trump’ s executive order last week will make it easier for companies to drill for oil and gas in some of our countries beloved national parks, including the Everglades and the Grand Tetons. His order mandated federal agencies including the National Park Service to review or rescind several critical rules that protect our parks from oil and gas development.

Several national parks are jointly owned by the government and private oil and gas companies, with the government owning the land on the surface but drilling and mining companies holding rights to the minerals found beneath the ground. A total of 42 national parks fall under this description, and 12 of those parks currently have drilling operations underway, including the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park on the Kentucky-Virginia border and the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on the Tennessee-Kentucky border. In some of these parks, energy developers were there before the creation of the park.

President Trump believes that nullifying some of the previous drilling regulations will create jobs. Critics of the new order say that it clashes with the National Park Service’s mandate to protect the country’s parks for their scenic, cultural, recreational, ecological, and legacy values.  The National Park Conservation Association believes that the best solution to protect these endangered parks is for Congress to buy out the mineral rights owned by these private companies.

Learn more about the rules protecting our national parks from oil and gas drilling here.

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