Heritage Forests Campaign Once They're Gone, They're Gone Forever
The Roadless Rule
Threats to Roadless Areas
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America's Roadless Areas
Enjoying Your Wild Forests
Roadless Areas by State
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Protecting America's National Forests, a report by the Heritage Forests Campaign

In This Section


" Repeal of the Roadless Rule

" Logging

" Mining

" Energy Extraction

Threats to Our Roadless Areas

Energy Extraction

Energy extraction associated with oil and natural gas exploration is a major threat to the well-being of roadless areas. These commercial ventures require a network of access roads, pipelines, and other facilities necessary to extract and refine oil and gas. Drilling production can contaminate groundwater supplies by leaking toxins into local freshwater streams that provide natural habitats for fish and wildlife and feed into human living areas.

For example, oil drilling requires a lubricant, called "mud", that allows the drill to work effectively. A recent study by Confluence Consulting showed that every vertical foot of drilling leaves up to 2 gallons of waste mud in the soil (Pocatello Idaho State Journal, 2005). The toxic waste must be cleaned up and there is always the potential for it to contaminate the soil and leach into adjacent watersheds.

Studies also show that drilling production in some roadless areas may lead to increased haze. The Bureau of Land Management, in a supplemental air quality study for the Jonah Infill Drilling Project, said "the cumulative effects of more drilling will likely lead to haze above acceptable threshold levels in the national parks in the early stages of drilling." The study showed that drilling and both increased traffic and woodstove smoke emit harmful pollutants into the air. Not only does the haze prevent the viewing of pristine national forests and parks, it greatly lowers the quality of the surrounding air.

Learn more about roadless areas in danger of oil and gas development:

Photos of Forests