For Release: Thursday, March 31, 2022
FARMINGTON, NEW MEXICO—The Greater Chaco Coalition today reinforced its call to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to immediately stop new oil and gas drilling in the region of northwest New Mexico while the Interior Department’s “Honoring Chaco” Initiative gets underway, noting concerns about the Honoring Chaco process thus far and offering substantive suggestions to improve this process.
In letter sent today to Secretary Haaland, the groups highlighted the failure of the Interior Department to meaningfully involve Tribes and impacted communities as part of the Honoring Chaco Initiative. The letter offers six concrete steps to improve engagement, and underscores the need for the Honoring Chaco initiative to address legacies of exploitation and extraction within frontline Indigenous communities.
Responding to the threat of unchecked fracking in the region, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland last year kicked off the “Honoring Chaco” initiative, a two-part process involving the withdrawal of federal minerals within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and a new collaborative process to address the need for landscape-level management reforms. Today’s letter comes as the Interior Department announced a 30-day extension and two additional public meetings as part of its proposed mineral withdrawal.
Within the mineral withdrawal area alone, at least 90,000 acres and 800-1,000 allotment parcels are already leased to oil and gas, allowing for unabated drilling to continue regardless of the proposed buffer. With the majority of lands across the region already leased for fracking, today’s letter affirms the “deep concerns that a leasing buffer around Chaco Culture National Historical Park alone will not result in the type of meaningful transformation this region demands.”
For nearly a decade, the Greater Chaco Coalition has called on federal and state agencies to stop papering over problems in the region, and to finally fulfill promises to address the cumulative impacts of fracking, and to implement effective laws and regulations to protect the Greater Chaco Landscape and the people who live there.
In spite of the Honoring Chaco initiative, reports indicate the Greater Chaco landscape remains more threatened than ever by oil and gas drilling, fracking, and associated development. In their letter today, the groups cited four new fracking projects currently being considered by the Bureau of Land Management since 125 groups called for an immediate pause on February 22 to truly “Honor Chaco”, reaffirming the need for the agency to stop approving oil and gas activities across the Greater Chaco Landscape until the Department’s protection effort is complete.
Mario Atencio, Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment, (505) 321-9974 [email protected]
Julia Bernal, Director, Pueblo Action Alliance, (505) 220-005, [email protected]
Corn Howland, Diné Allottees Against Extraction, [email protected]
Mike Eisenfeld, San Juan Citizens Alliance, (505)-360-8994, [email protected]
Kyle Tisdel, Western Environmental Law Center, (575)-613-8050, [email protected]