Drilling under Public Parks Focusing the Sustainability Lens Brings Clarity to the Issue

By Gould, Court | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), April 22, 2014 | Go to article overview

Drilling under Public Parks Focusing the Sustainability Lens Brings Clarity to the Issue


Gould, Court, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Park lands are a public compensation to counter and provide refuge from rapid urbanization. Such foresight in stewardship squares with sustainability's core definition of meeting present needs without compromising those of tomorrow's people.

Sustainability tenets also guide to not pollute at a rate faster than nature can neutralize, recycle, and replenish. Shale development in public parks does not square with this principle due to potential impacts to water, land, and air.

Sustainability favors what has been practiced to date: protected park lands provide huge economic payoffs when factoring their natural capital/ecological stocks, which perpetually contribute environmental, social, and economic dividends.

Shale development under parks is inconsistent with the foundational intent of these public spaces and poses undue risks to the very conservation and preservation of their tremendous and increasing natural asset and recreational value.

If this primary stewardship perspective is overridden, sustainability principles can help minimize drilling impacts by reducing risks and hastening deployment of protective best practices.

Sustainability dictates that reliance on a non-renewable resource should lead to investment in a renewable alternative that can be up and running when the former plays out. Natural gas is fossil and finite but yields money that should fund the shift to its renewable substitute.

In light of these principles, the following are sustainability prerequisites for natural resource development in public parks:

* Establish new best practices in all aspects of the operation.

* Avoid temptation to use proceeds for day-to-day operating needs; rather, use proceeds to mitigate negative social and environmental impacts and to invest in bringing renewables online while weaning from fossil dependence. …

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