Members of the Congressional House Natural Resources Committee visited New Mexico from April 13 to 15 to learn more about the negative impacts of oil and gas drilling on sacred sites and air quality, especially in the Greater Chaco region of northwest New Mexico.
New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and New Mexico Congressman Ben Ray Lujan and Congresswoman Deb Haaland introduced the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019, which would withdraw federal minerals from oil and gas leasing in roughly a 10-mile buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
On February 20, 2019, crowds gathered at the New Mexico Legislature to celebrate the state’s public lands and call for their protection as a diverse coalition of tribal leaders, legislators, land users, and allied organizations showcased the delivery of 30,000 public protests to the BLM in opposition to its March 2019 oil and gas lease sale.
Despite protests from Navajo chapter houses, the All Pueblo Council of Governors, the Navajo Nation, Governor-elect Michelle Lujan-Grisham, hundreds of thousands of public citizens, and more than 100 organizations, the BLM proceeded with auctioning off 30 parcels for oil and gas extraction.
Over 200 clean air and water advocates rallied in front of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) state office in Santa Fe today to protest the December 5th and 6th online auction of over 89,000 acres of public and ancestral tribal lands, including over 44,000 acres in the Greater Chaco region, and over 40,000 near Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Tribal leaders, environmental groups, and advocates expressed growing outrage at BLM’s chronic disengagement with the public, its lack of meaningful tribal consultation, and its failure to consider the public health and environmental impacts of selling off federal and tribal lands for fracking.
Opponents will rally at the BLM headquarters in Santa Fe on December 5, one day ahead of Thursday’s planned online sale that includes 46,000 acres in the culturally significant Greater Chaco region.
At the Navajo Counselor Chapter, sitting at the intersection of Highway 550 and the county road to Chaco Culture National Historic Park, the air looks clean and the wind often blows strongly across the mesas and through the valleys. But for the past 3 years, residents have complained of chest pain, headaches, coughing, wheezing, sinus problems and skin and eye irritation.
A mixed bag of recent court decisions are key for determining the fate of fracking and drilling in New Mexico hot spots.
Lease sale targets the same region as a March sale deferred due to need for more cultural review and consultation
In an unanticipated move, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke cancelled a March lease auction of 4,454 acres in Greater Chaco to oil and gas companies.