Although oil drilling and fracking provide some of the energy that we all use, the practices are highly controversial for the toll they take on our environment. It gets especially knottier when we talk about our precious, hard-won public lands.
Nowhere is this situation being played out more visibly than in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which sits in the heart of the oil-rich Bakken formation. It’s clear that the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota has brought much-needed jobs and economic development to the region. But the fast pace of the drilling has also caused many problems, including industrial-scale impacts on the park and the land surrounding it.
Watch A Boom With No Boundaries below. Produced by the Center for American Progress, the video notes that currently much of the oil and gas drilling in western North Dakota is happening on private land. But in the coming years, development will accelerate at a breakneck speed on public lands right outside the park’s borders. A moderate estimate is that there will be between 40,000 and 60,000 fracking wells and oil rigs in the West River country of the state in the next twenty to thirty years. As is stated in the video, what that means is that virtually every place where there is oil shale to be exploited will be exploited.
There is a fear drilling could even happen inside the park itself. Drilling already occurs within twelve national park units across the country. And Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of thirty more national parks that the government has identified as places that could be drilled.
As Clay Jenkinson, author and Theodore Roosevelt scholar, says in the video, “We can choose a few really magnificent and fragile places that we agree to save.”
To save, I would add, even if we haven’t seen them.