Report: 42 national parks stand chance of oil & gas drilling

The San Antonio Missions and the Palo Alto Battlefield in South Texas are among as many as 30 national parks and historic areas that ould be the site of future oil and gas drilling, according to a new analysis.

The sites administered by the National Park Service all are close to oil and gas resources where drilling already is occurring, and private individuals or companies own mineral rights inside some of their boundaries.

The locations were identified by the National Park Service, in response to a request for data from the left-leaning Center for American Progress, which issued a report on the subject Wednesday. Some of the sites, including the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, are near booming shale gas fields.

Two other sites in Texas also made the list, including Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site.

Other parks that made the list for possible future drilling include Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and the Everglades National Park in south Florida, as well as the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stoystown, Pa., where one of the planes hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001 was downed after passengers intervened.

Nearly 700 oil and gas wells have already been drilled in 12 national parks, including Big Thicket National Park in East Texas and Padre Island National Seashore in South Texas.

The National Park Service is updating regulations governing oil and gas activity in the sites. It is the first substantive rewrite of the regulations in three decades.

But the topic has attracted new attention with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s energy plan that would let states issue permits for oil and gas projects on federal lands within their borders.

In the Center for American Progress report, author Jessica Goad says oil and gas drilling “is a dirty business that, if done improperly, has the potential to do substantial harm to national parks and other public lands.”

She notes that the activity often comes with a surge in infrastructure — or demands on existing roads and pipelines.