What is the largest expansion of natural gas drilling approved by the federal government is expected to contribute to the reduction of air quality in and around the Mt. Rushmore region of South Dakota. 50,000 gas wells will be added to northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana. Coal mining, oil drilling, and this increased expansion is expected to double the smog-forming emissions. According to an article in the LA Times(Miguel Bustillo Jan 29, 2005):
“The FBL [federal Bureau of Land Management] moved forward with the project despite its own air quality analysis, which concluded that the pollution would cloud views at more than a dozen national parks and monuments, exceed federal air quality standards in several communities and cause acid rain to fall on mountain lakes, where it couldharm fish and wildlife. The Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service expressed similar concerns to the BLM.”
The FBL is under pressure from the White House to “fast-track” energy production and so approved this drilling plan without incorporating requirements to reduce the resulting air pollution. This region of the US is known to have the best air quality in the lower 48 states.
It’s arguable whether this decision was made in haste, but assuredly the outcome of this behavior will live as part of our legacy. This is part of what we leave behind for future Americans, and what lesson do we teach our children with this kind of behavior? As famished as the US is for energy, I reiterate my initial claim that the US can do better than rely on inefficient and environmentally-damaging non-renewable energy supplies.
Please consider giving extra support to your environmental charity of choice this year and visit your local national parks. Learn first hand of the parks’ beauty so you will know what to tell your kids; learn as the last generation able to do so.
Our diverse natural beauty is breathtaking and inspiring. I have often traveled to these national areas to find peace, serenity, and pray. I have always returned to the natural world when I needed relief from my synthetic high-pressure world. This was taught to me by my parents. My father left an indelible impression on me when we, as a suburban family, would leave what he called “the rat race” for a vacation to our grandfather’s upper-Michigan farmland located in what Dad called “God’s country”. When I travel to these places as an adult, I can experience a plethora of emotion as my senses take in the brilliant surroundings and masterful creation. I am easily overwhelmed because it is clear to me that there is nothing so perfect in the man-made world. Crisp-fresh air, cold-clean water and the vivid-bright colors of plants and animals cohabitating as God must have intended. It is a living church. A natural cathedral. When I am there I affirm my profoundly simple belief that this is the world from which I have come and to which I will someday return.
I believe that my religious beliefs run as deep and strong as anyone in our government, and I know how much closer I feel to my creator when I am in these natural areas of the United States. These beautiful areas that we are bound by our common morality to maintain. After all, we do not own this glorious country; we merely borrow it from our children.
Save America the beautiful,