Wyoming Republican Wants To Open Yellowstone Park, Home Of America’s Super Volcano, To Drilling

Gasbohrung, Gasfackel, Söhlingen-Ost Z4, ExxonMobil, photo by Battenbrook

Gasbohrung, Gasfackel, Söhlingen-Ost Z4, ExxonMobil, photo by Battenbrook

In a country full of crazy anti-science oil obsessed conservatives, this Wyoming Republican might be the craziest one of all.

Taylor Haynes is currently challenging incumbent Wyoming Republican Governor Matt Mead. A challenge to a Republican from another Republican isn’t uncommon these days, but Haynes has a goal that should scare the living hell out of anybody.

When the Casper Star-Tribune interviewed Haynes about his plans for Wyoming, he stated his intention to open up the entire state to drilling companies. That includes Yellowstone National Park, a scenic and iconic piece of federally protected land that attracts millions of tourists every year who come to see geysers, thermal vents, and wildlife. If elected, Haynes says any federal employee who tries to do their job would be arrested.

“In whichever county they attempt to have any official activity, they will be arrested for impersonating a law enforcement officer in Wyoming,” Haynes told the Star-Tribune.

Despite Haynes’ Cliven Bundy-like anti-government attitude, that’s not the most dangerous part of his plan. The real threat comes from the massive super volcano that is underneath the park.

Haynes actually wants to allow drilling in the park itself. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside. This is the kind of drilling that would likely take place in Yellowstone if Haynes were to have his way. Not only would Yellowstone be at risk of being poisoned by the toxic stew of chemicals used in the fracking process, it would also experience more earthquakes in an already earthquake prone area. Fracking has already caused earthquakes in states such as Arkansas and Pennsylvania. But fracking in Yellowstone is particularly dangerous because it could cause a premature explosion that could wipe us all off the map.

There’s a reason why Yellowstone is a hotbed of geothermal activity. It’s home to a massive caldera that contains enough magma to blanket the entire United States in ash. The super volcano is already overdue for an eruption, but that doesn’t mean we should allow oil and gas companies to help it along. The drilling already causes earthquakes which could lead to an eruption. But drilling also would weaken the crust that covers the caldera’s massive magma chamber. Gases trapped with the magma keep it from expanding, but an accidental explosion or just poking the area full of holes with a drill gives those gases a place to escape, thus causing the magma to expand. Then, BOOM!

And the resulting explosion won’t be like any volcano we’ve seen erupt before. This one would be capable of changing the entire world. Agriculture and the economy would nosedive. Millions of Americans and people all around the planet could perish. So much material would be thrust into the atmosphere that it could trigger another ice age. The catastrophic consequences get even worse. Toxic gases beneath the surface of Yellowstone would also be released. The day this volcano erupts will be like armageddon. Do we really want to risk it just so some greedy gas companies can suck a trickle of gas from the area?

Thankfully, the Wyoming Constitution contains a section in which the citizens of the state agreed to give up the land to the federal government in exchange for statehood after the Civil War. However, that doesn’t mean Yellowstone is out of the woods completely. Even if Haynes loses, his idea to drill in the pristine national park could very well be picked up by another Republican who wants to put lives at risk for the sake of a little more energy production. Plus, the aquifers that provide drinking water to residents are already threatened by fracking. More fracking would just make the water supply more vulnerable.

Fracking, and the conservatives who support it, are a threat to all American citizens. It poisons land, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. It is also causing earthquakes across the country. The last thing we need is for fracking to be responsible for the worst volcanic blast in human history. The paltry amount of gas it would provide just isn’t worth it.