Even though fracking has been thought as the least
destructive mining operation, claims against this practice are plenty. Oil
companies and proposers of fracking provide their own positive views of
drilling National Parks. Some frackers believe that there is enough space
within these parks that the acres occupied by wells will not impact the space
required by wildlife, it’s emphasized how the application of fracking creates a
cheap domestic resource, it creates jobs and it boosts the economy.

            However,
it’s important to note that the estimated resources are not always the actual
resources. Wildlife and flora is affected as even more space is taken over.
Pollution of aquifers and underground water sources can affect the park itself
as well as any population nearby that accesses it for drinking water. The water
consumption used in the fracking process increases per well, leaving locations
without water. In fact, the NPCA’s Center for Park Research analyzed the impact
of water consumption, reducing water flows in natural rivers, decreasing fish
populations and affecting plant life along the streams.

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            In
addition, fracking poses a risk to the environment and health, polluting water
sources, already there are cases of water contamination such as: toxic
wastewater, well blowouts, chemical spills; all caused by these operations from.
In fact, between 20 to 40 percent of the water used in fracking gushes back to
the surface during drilling operations. These waters contain lubricants and
naturally occurring chemicals such as barium, radium and different salts.1 Water contamination is not
the only form of pollution, operational noise from air compressors, industrial
machinery and drilling can alter the behavior of local wildlife. Another
pollutant is the release of gases through the drilling and fracking process,
releasing chemicals into the air, changing the air quality of the area; which
would inevitably affect plant life and wildlife near and far from wells.

            Also, animals
within the parks do not know the boundaries of their habitat. The wells and
machinery within park lands can undeniable physically break up certain habitats
wildlife needs to survive. For example, over 85% of the sagebrush steppe
habitat in Wyoming, which supports around 100 bird and 70 mammal species has
been lost. And wildlife that migrate find their migration routes blocked by
energy equipment and roads.2

            It’s
understandable that oil companies want to drill into these parks as the
estimated reserves would provide a boost to the economy and provide cheaper oil
products. However, this keeps being a relatively short term solution in order
to cash into oil money. Notably, the air pollution, industrial traffic and
noise pollution affect those who visit the parks, which impacts the region’s
tourism.

            Moreover,
these resources are still finite, and once depleted either the cycle repeats or
renewable resources will be slowly developed; by then the damage to the
environment might be severe. Fracking might in fact be the safest new method to
drill for these resources, but it has many adverse effects nonetheless. The
creation of some jobs, small boost to economy and company profit as well as
trade independence is hardly outweighing the damage to air, water and soil; not
to mention the health hazards to anyone nearby.

            Unfortunately,
there are over 520 active well sites in a dozen National Parks, it was only
last year in 2016 that more extensive rulings and regulations were implemented.
Before these changes over 300 wells were exempt, leaving these sites
unregulated as far as spills, drilling liberties and other violations3. These regulations are
known as 9B updates, some of these regulations seek to limit the access to a
small percentage of parks, and further improve the law regulations to enforce
drilling operations to avoid noncompliance. 4

            Finally,
fracking is a relatively low cost, quick extraction of oil products and natural
gas that provides jobs and stimulates the energy market. It provides domestic
reserves and lowers foreign dependency. On the other hand, if allowed to
continued access to more National parks, these regions will suffer the adverse
effects brought by mining operations. Indeed, fracking is promised to be safer
than coal mining, more efficient and uses less chemicals.

            However,
reported cases of water, air and noise pollution are rising. Already, without
stricter regulations these operations unscrupulously try to extract without
care for the environment long term. Yes, fracking is a short term boost to the
energy production needed nationwide, yet its effects are long term.

           

            Water
contamination, air and noise pollution impacts National Parks tenfold. These
are safe havens for a myriad of wildlife and plant population that have limited
habitats. While the wells are relatively small, long term effects of this
extractions can affect these regions irreversibly. Long term solutions such as
renewable energy should be the focus instead of exploiting regions which we
agreed to protect as natural bastions.

            The idea
of fracking National Parks seems cartoonish in how greedy and profit driven it
is. If correctly regulated it can become a boon for the economy and have
minimized environmental effects. However, the impacts to National Parks is
hardly worth the short term effects. Certainly, National Parks are relatively
small regions of protected landscape where plant populations and wildlife can
thrive without the hand of civilization. These are protected havens, for the
conservation of flora and fauna, it’s beautiful landscape that attract and
marvel as well as important environmental beneficiaries. To potentially and
irreparably damage these ecosystems for temporary benefits seems outrageous.
Energy production should also focus in energy conservation and renewable
resources, although that is a daunting task knowing oil companies. Overall,
promoting the safeguarding of natural landscapes should be the primary concern
before profit and short term solutions.

1
Nations, James D. “Fracking and National Park
Wildlife.” – 2. Water Quality

2
Nations, James D. “Fracking and National Park
Wildlife.” – 1.Habitat Fragmentation

3
Geltman, Elizabeth Glass. “Better Regulation
of Oil & Gas Drilling in National Parks.”

4
National Parks Service, U.S. Department of
the Interior, 9B regulations