Gas drilling in the West threatens air at national parks

Air quality and visibility at more than a dozen of the nation’s oldest and most beloved national parks and monuments, including Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park, are under threat from the ongoing boom in natural-gas drilling in the Western U.S. Officials from the Bureau of Land Management admit that they were ordered by the White House to fast-track the approval of drilling plans; they did not include any requirements to reduce the expected pollution. Scientists from the BLM, the U.S. EPA, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service have all expressed concerns about the imminent pollution and the lack of any mitigation or monitoring mechanisms. However, with demand for natural gas rising and Western states still under the impression that their economic fortunes rest with resource extraction, the scientists’ concerns — and a lawsuit recently filed by four enviro groups — are unlikely to slow the drilling juggernaut.