Bush-Kempthorne geothermal plan won't protect Yellowstone Park

190-million acre geothermal opening of public lands doesn’t protect Yellowstone-

The other day,  Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne ordered the opening of 190-million acres+ of your public lands in the West for development of geothermal energy.

He claimed national parks were protected, and, in fact, he didn’t open Yellowstone Park to geothermal leasing. However, all the land around the borders of the Park are open to development.

Development near, if not in geyser areas, throughout the world has usually destroyed them. In the guest opinion below Amy McNamara says Congress should protect the boundaries of Yellowstone.

Guest Opinion: Geothermal plan won’t protect Yellowstone. By Amy McNamara. Greater Yellowstone Coalition. Guest opinion in the Billings Gazette.

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A bit of history, the same thing happened during the Carter Administration back in the 1970s, and a huge battle was fought to protect the boundaries of Yellowstone. This was never resolved.

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Related: How the Bush Administration steals your money. This has nothing directly to do with geothermal, but it shows how this Administration is little better than thieves. They just stole an extra $140-billion for the banks. In the meantime President-elect Obama’s tax cut plan for the middle class, said by critics to be too expensive, would cost about $65-billion.

A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks. With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policy. By Amit R. Paley. Washington Post Staff Writer


  1. vickif Avatar

    Bush and Kempthorne are on a mission to destroy as much as possible in three months. Hold to to your hats. Let’s hope Obama, having mentioned YNP as a place he fondly remembers from having visited, uses his executive authority here.
    Can he? I hope he can.
    I am always dumbfounded-though I don’t know why- at the blatant disregard and outright ignorance of the Bush admin.
    Maybe scientists, biologists, and geologists need to unionize. Then they could make statements in a grander fashion.

  2. Alan Gregory Avatar

    A bit off topic, but had to get this “grizzly/wolf” link to you, Ralph http://rewilding.org/rewildit/259/grizzly-mom-and-cubs-vs-wolf/

  3. Peter Kiermeir Avatar
    Peter Kiermeir

    The Billings Gazette readers mob is not only „the“ authority on wolves and buffalo, oh no, they are of course also „the“ authority on geothermal and climatic issues. Marion and her groupies feasting again. All those “extreeme leftist enviros” and greenies again…. Hey let´s drill a little bit here and kill a little bit there…….

  4. Peter Kiermeir Avatar
    Peter Kiermeir

    Thanks Alan, absolutely great clip!

  5. Jon Way Avatar

    Bush and co. have obvious little respect for science, thus I say that Obama makes an executive decision to not allow these people to have modern medicine. After all, science is what created them and they obviously have little regard for science.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks Alan.

    I think that kind of scene is played out often completely unrecorded inside Yellowstone as the bears trying to fatten up for winter.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This out-going administration will do as much to help itself to our lands and pocketbooks as possible. They have it figured that at least some of what they do can’t be, or won’t be reversed.

    Please read the addition I put up about the $140-billion windfall for the banks . . . an example.

  8. jimbob Avatar

    I have been talking about this admins. policies being so far beyond politics on this website for 8 years. It is criminal what the Bush/Cheney Repubs. have done to OUR COUNTRY! Not just the environment—they’ve raped everything including the public process and the credibility of the government. I know I’m mostly preaching to the choir here, but it needs to be pointed out. OBAMA BETTER BE BETTER! The credibility of the government and the environment NEED to be first on the list—if there is anything left to save. The Bush/Cheney Repubs. have destroyed our country—anybody who doesn’t see that is ignorant or brainwashed. Also, people need to quit using Bush as the catch-all for what is wrong. It took a lot of people to pass his policies—including most of the “yes men” in the Republican party, and even some Democrats. Even when he and Cheney are gone their “legacy” of running roughshod over the American people in support of Big Business will carry on. That other story that Ralph linked about the bank bailout sounds downright criminal, if not a huge mis-deed. It is off-topic, but I saw a great show on Free speech TV last night about corporate control of our government. Very topical and very scary!

  9. jimbob Avatar

    Just a thought—does anybody else wonder what the long term effects of removing this energy from underground is? (Besides the obvious on Yellowstone) Atmospheric effects? Will certain parts of the crust collapse into underground water wells? Will this be like every other exploitation and turn out to be harmful a few years down the road after we are dependent on it?

  10. Salle Avatar


    I have been thinking about this for quite some time and I would respond to your last thre questions with:

    YES, YES, and YES.

  11. dbaileyhill Avatar


    for detailed information of the effects, i would suggest finding info on Google about New Zealand and their geothermal history.

  12. dbaileyhill Avatar

    In addition, due to drought conditions during the last two years, the percentage of power derived from geothermal resources has dropped from 75% to 50%, putting a strain on limited fossil fuel supplies. They are in need of some serious rainfall and quickly, but with the summer season now in full swing it could be quite a wait for some relief. In Feb. of 2004 on the north island they were experiencing a lot of flooding. When i was there for March of 2007, folks were discussing the lack of rainfall. I will be in NZ again this March and will be very interested to see first hand.

    The reason i mentioned this is because of the changes i have seen in the park year after year. I take photos of the various thermal features every time i am in the park. This past spring i was absolutely blown away at the amount of water in the park and how it affected various features, especially ones that haven’t been active or “putting on a show” for many years. In the grand scheme of things and compared with the past, the amount of water in the park was not hugely significant in relation to what “normal” used to be 35+ years ago. I have not studied any underground mapping of under the park, but it is my thought that any harnessing of geothermal energy near the park and maybe even well beyond a 15 mile buffer zone would definitely change activity in the park and may even cause some features to cease completely depending how chambers are connected underground. The thermal areas could easily be damaged permanently, just as certain areas in NZ are completely gone. If memory serves me well, i think that the only features that are untouched for the most part are in two very small areas that the Maori’s were somehow able to keep in their ownership.

    New Zealand began their geothermal energy program in the early 50’s (if i am remembering correctly). There should be plenty of documentation about it. I will be searching for a book with the complete history to bring home with me.

  13. TimothyB Avatar

    “They just stole an extra $140-billion for the banks”??????
    While I didn’t read the entire story I did spend the night in a Holiday Inn Express and listened to a story on NPR. Basically it makes it easier for one solvent bank to take over a failing bank. So we can either have Wachovia and Washington Mutual type banks fail completely or we can encourage stronger banks to buy the failing banks by letting them write off the bad debt they will acquire from the failing bank.

    The remark “stole” may be a little strong IMO.

  14. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I listened to the story on NPR just now based on your recommendation above.

    If I understand it, you are right in saying this deals with allowing one solvent bank to take over another. However, in doing so it excuses the banks from paying taxes on their gains which will be huge, resulting in a revenue loss of up to $140-billion.

    The Treasury Dept. may not have had legal authority to do this. It is a measure bank lobbyists had wanted for years, but Congress would not give it to them. So they were allowed to take it by Secretry Paulson . . . my read.

  15. vickif Avatar

    In the grand scheme, the lost revenue via excused taxes, will be enormous. It was a move bodly played. It will be those losses that will challenge the new president to balance a budget and still prpovide the financial availability for programs that have been swept under thr ug for eigth years by the current administration.
    When we have these large losses of revenue, they ripple effect reaches far to programs that aren’t carrying a lot of notariety, such as land conservation and energy research.
    Allowing banks to stay open is a greatthing. But we need to regulate in some tax repayment in increments that allow the banks to succeed and the tax base to be rebuilt. We cannot simply give these banks free clean slates. In the end, we switch wallstreet to the bank on the corner, we will ultimately give banks control of our economy, a cornered market. They will reign supreme over lending, and without regulation, that will land us right back where we are now.
    It will shift pwoer from one industry to another, but what we need is for power to lay in the hands of voters and tax payers. THere is entirely too much moarket and governemnt lead by big industry, oil, banks, insurance companies….we need to make the business up the street a voice in our society that is heard too.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan