Should we drill for gas in our state parks?
By Alan Septoff
August 17, 2009
The AP reports today that states, seeking new sources of revenue, are allowing or considering allowing drilling for gas inside state parks. Has it really come to this?
My understanding is that state parks are established so as to protect land/resources in the public trust for present and future generations. Endangering parks for short term gain by extracting nonrenewable resources contained therein seems to directly violate that trust. From the article:
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State parks aren't just for hiking, camping and other recreation anymore. Increasingly, these lands are being used for oil and gas drilling as budget-strapped states seek new sources of revenue.
As they allow more energy exploration in state parks in some cases by reversing previous bans lawmakers are being met with resistance from environmentalists and park officials.
Opponents of the drilling say it raises troubling questions about acceptable uses of publicly shared land even when new technology allows rigs positioned outside park boundaries to reach petroleum pockets deep beneath the parks by drilling horizontally.
Once that line is crossed, park officials say, there is no going back.
Right now, there is a huge glut of natural gas because of the recession and the new drilling techniques. Prices have plunged as a result. There is apprehension from some park directors that with any economic rebound, the pressure to drill on public lands will only grow stronger.