New Report Details National Parks At Risk Due to Continued Oil and Gas Development on Adjacent Public Lands

Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks Warns that National Parks Face Imminent Risk

WASHINGTON, DC – According to a new report from the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, four national parks – Carlsbad Caverns, Chaco Culture, Rocky Mountain, and Grand Teton – face imminent risk posed by dangerous and pollutive oil and gas development.

The report highlights the negative impacts of current oil and gas development near four of America’s national parks and shows that much stronger action is needed from the Biden administration and Congress to better protect these extraordinary places from the impacts of oil and gas development.


Specifically, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks found that:

  1. Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Carlsbad Caverns sits at the convergence of the Delaware and Permian Basins, one of the country’s most active and profitable oil and gas fields. As of December 2022, there were 350 oil rigs in the Permian Basin, and new permits for additional drilling  are being approved regularly. This uptick in drilling is wreaking havoc on air quality, with the National Park Service noting recently that the park is showing heightened ozone levels due to the impacts of oil and gas activity.
  2. Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The Bureau of Land Management has leased over 90% of the federal lands surrounding Chaco for drilling. Oil and gas companies have already drilled more than 37,000 wells in the area and built a sprawling network of roads – 15,000 miles – five times longer than the distance from Los Angeles to New York. A  2016 NASA study documented the multiple compounding adverse effects of oil and gas development in the area, including the presence of a massive methane cloud positioned over the Four Corners region of the United States, including northwestern New Mexico.
  3. Rocky Mountain National Park. Research and monitoring have demonstrated that the park’s air quality is affected by air pollution coming from a variety of human made sources, including vehicles, power plants, agriculture, fire, and the oil and gas industry. A report from the National Parks Conservation Association highlights the impact of oil and gas production in Weld County, east of Rocky Mountain National Park. The high levels of oil and gas production have contributed to severe levels of ozone, have been a leading factor in the national park falling out of compliance with the regional haze standards set under the Clean Air Act, and have contributed to nitrogen oxide build-up in the park’s soil, which exceeds 15 times the natural amount.
  4. Grand Teton National Park. The park’s wildlife are threatened by a proposed 3,500-well gas project that could “irrevocably alter the Path of the Pronghorn deer, a migration corridor that hundreds of pronghorns use to travel from summer ranges in Grand Teton National Park to winter ranges in the Green River Basin.” Numerous conservation groups have argued that the massive gas-field would disrupt the Path of the Pronghorn by preventing access to the winter ranges that the animals need to survive.

“The impacts caused by oil and gas development on the doorsteps of national parks across the country has the potential to harm park resources, contaminate water, pollute the air, destroy habitat, threaten public health, impede the visitor experience, and exacerbate the already present impacts of climate change, which ultimately harms local communities and economies,” said Mike Murray, Chair of the Executive Council of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “To protect our irreplaceable natural and cultural resources, treasured landscapes, our climate, and public health, the Biden administration and Congress must take action to curb the adverse effects of energy extraction on parks, surrounding landscapes, gateway communities, park visitors, and national park resources.”

To better protect these four vulnerable sites, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks recommends that the Biden Administration (1) prohibit oil and gas developments on lands near national parks, (2) protect wildlife by ensuring migration routes are not impeded by oil and gas development, (3) regulate emissions from oil and gas development to protect air quality, and (4) close loopholes and modernize rules surrounding federal oil and gas leasing and management.

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The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks represents over 2,300 current, former, and retired employees and volunteers of the National Park Service, with over 45,000 collective years of stewardship of America’s most precious natural and cultural resources. Recognized as the Voices of Experience, the Coalition educates, speaks, and acts for the preservation and protection of the National Park System, and mission-related programs of the National Park Service. More information can be found at