Key protection for Greater Chaco passes U.S. House

Contact: Miya King-Flaherty, 505-301-0863, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter organizing representative

Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act (H.R. 2181), which would ban new leasing and drilling on federal lands within a 10-mile buffer zone surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park. 

Industrialized fracking in Greater Chaco, within the 10-mile buffer zone and beyond, is a threat not only to treasured sacred and archaeological sites, but also to the health and safety of communities throughout the Greater Chaco region. 

The bill also acknowledges the need for additional health studies and protective measures against fracking that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) still has not addressed. The BLM  continues to approve more fracking wells despite not having updated Resource Management Plans for its Farmington and Rio Puerco Field Offices. The current plans were written in 2003 and 1986 respectively, and BLM has acknowledged that it doesn’t address the impacts of expanded extraction technology. 

The bill passed 245-174 with bipartisan support.

In response, Miya King Flaherty, Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter released the following statement: 

“Expanded fracking in Greater Chaco threatens our region’s rich cultural history, community health, and Indigenous rights. Today’s vote is an important step toward protecting the region  and cultural resources, and we applaud Representatives Luján, Haaland and Torres Small for their leadership on this issue. We look forward to continuing to work with our elected leaders to achieve full and permanent protections for the broader Chaco landscape and the people who live there.” 

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Key protection for Greater Chaco passes U.S. House