March 8, 2018
For Immediate Release
Miya King-Flaherty, Sierra Club – Rio Grande Chapter, Our Wild New Mexico Organizer, (505) 301-0863, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greater Chaco Employs Guerilla “Warning” Signs to Combat Fracking
Navajo Communities and Allies Use Signs on State Highway to Vocalize their Silenced Dissent
Counselor, NM: Ignored by the Bureau of Land Management, which continues to auction off their community to fracking, community members in the Greater Chaco region are taking a stand against unchecked drilling and oil and gas leasing near their homes by planting signs along U.S. 550 in Counselor, N.M.
The messages read: Entering Energy Sacrifice Zone, We Are Greater Chaco, Violence Against Land is Violence Against Us, Extraction Threatens Our Health and Safety, Selloff Of Sacred Lands Dooda, and Methane Gas: Odorless Toxic in Our Air.
Despite immense public opposition and numerous calls to protect community health and safety, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continues to prioritize oil and gas development in the region, while ignoring calls for meaningful tribal consultation and an immediate moratorium on all new drilling and land leases until the 2003 resource management plan for the area is updated and completed.
“One of the purposes of the signs is to get the community talking. The dangers associated with natural resource extraction affect us in one way or another whether we want to believe it or not. Becoming aware of the so-called political ground we stand on is powerful, and we must stand against destruction if we are to ensure there will be a future living with and on the land,” said Kendra Pinto, Navajo Nation Twin Pines resident.
Recently, the BLM received an unprecedented 459 protest comments against the March 8 lease sale and had planned to move forward with the controversial leases based on an outdated Resource Management Plan that was written before fracking was feasible in the region, and without meaningful Tribal consultation or consent from the Navajo Nation and Pueblos who consider the Greater Chaco region sacred.
“I live in Albuquerque. I reap the benefits of having cheap electricity every day. It’s unacceptable to me that another community has to sacrifice their health and safety for my benefit. A significant number of people in that area don’t even have electricity,” said Mark LeClaire of We Are One River. “The organizing that’s been going on up there is the people empowering themselves. … and we’re all connected. Not only is an injustice anywhere a threat to justice everywhere, but the reverse is true too. When communities where “resource extraction” is taking place get empowered to protect their children’s future, it benefits all of us. It’s beautiful to be a small part of that.”
The BLM has issued over 400 new drilling permits, including 37 new drilling permits in immediate proximity to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Although the March lease sale has been deferred, communities in Greater Chaco continue to experience the everyday impacts associated with industrialized fracking, including dust pollution caused by heavy truck traffic, unsafe transportation, the desecration of unmarked sacred sites and herbs, toxic air from flaring and related health symptoms like dizziness, headaches, burning eyes, nose and throat irritation, trouble breathing and related respiratory problems.
“It’s like talking to a wall. We have to continue and keep moving forward protecting our homeland,” said Sam Sage, Counselor Chapter House, Community Services Coordinator.