Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park could be among the country’s national parks put at risk by oil-and-gas wells, according to results of a newly released study.
In an assessment of oil-and-gas drilling in or near national parks, the National Parks Conservation Association found that Teton is suffering effects from well fields as far away as the Upper Green River Basin, a major natural gas development area, the Billings (Mont.) Gazette reported.
The park is about 50 miles north of the northern edge of oil-and-gas activity in the area. There is no drilling or production in Grand Teton National Park.
Among the Grand Teton impacts cited in the study were blocked antelope migration corridors and reduced air quality. The results were enough to concern the association.
“These are national treasures and state treasures,” said Sharon Mader, NPCA program director for Grand Teton. “Tourism is one of the driving aspects of our economy in Wyoming, and we need to use the precautionary principle” to protect parks.
A spokeswoman for Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., indicated support for and confidence in the industry.
“Wyoming has shown that we can protect the environment and create good jobs at the same time,” Barrasso spokeswoman Laura Mengelkamp wrote in an email. “Our state has led the way with effective hydraulic fracturing regulations that apply to private, state and federal lands.”
A spokeswoman for Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., didn’t comment on the report specifically, but issued a statement generally supportive of advanced oil-and-gas production technologies.
At least one representative of the oil-and-gas industry had trouble accepting the study’s results.
“We made mitigation efforts years ago to take care of those issues by giving up some leases they said were in the migration corridor,” said Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. “I’m not sure it’s oil and gas that’s the problem, it’s just people living and working. That’s always going to be a problem.”
Hinchey added that producers near the park have also taken measures to reduce emissions, including switching from diesel drilling rigs to natural gas-operated equipment.
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