In the shadow of the Rocky Mountains live the Native American Blackfoot tribes. Facing high unemployment, the tribe opened up their lands to oil and gas production to boast the local economy. The number of wells has grown since the fracking boom on the Great Plains, leading to concerns about this ecologically and culturally important area being degraded by industrial activity.
The reservation sits next to Glacier National Park, and its beautiful, fragile, fading glaciers. While some have hailed natural gas as a positive alternative to other more CO2 intensive fossil fuels, others doubt that it will play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Regardless of whether hydraulic fracturing occurring next to the national park slows or speeds up the glacier’s retreat, the local community is weighing the benefits of increased job opportunities and wealth with the possible harm to land that forms a part of their cultural heritage, and the pristine ecosystem that land supports. New exploratory wells are being opened in an area previously untouched by gas exploration, and the if the wells yield gas, it’s likely activity will increase.
Image credit: https://flic.kr/p/bmJmcN