NM's Chaco Supporters Rally for Protections from Drilling
Friday, May 6, 2022
At a rally today in Santa Fe, thousands of comments about a proposed withdrawal of new oil and gas drilling leases near New Mexico's Chaco Culture National Historical Park will be delivered to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
After considerable pressure from conservation groups, a proposal to prohibit future oil and gas leasing within 10 miles of the park has been proposed by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Miya King-Flaherty, organizing representative of Our Wild New Mexico for the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter, said another goal of the rally is for the federal government to provide better management and protections for the broader landscape.
"There are traditional, historically very important landscapes all over the U.S. that have been sacrificed in the name of fossil-fuels extraction," King-Flaherty observed. "What's happening here in Chaco is really no different from anywhere else in the U.S."
New Mexico is the second-largest oil-producing state, and the vast majority of lands across the Chaco region are already leased for fracking. King-Flaherty pointed out more than 40,000 oil and gas wells dot the landscape, affecting air, water, health and cultural resources. The rally will be held at the BLM's state office in Santa Fe at noon.
King-Flaherty is encouraged U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has said it's time to consider more enduring protections for Greater Chaco, a sacred place for Indigenous peoples.
"We are hopeful that she will also make sure that meaningful tribal consultation is taken seriously," King-Flaherty emphasized. "That community members who are impacted by oil-and-gas activities will be addressed."
Because of its plentiful uranium, coal, oil and natural gas, the Greater Chaco region in the northwest corner of the state was officially designated an "energy sacrifice zone" in the 1970s by the Nixon administration. The area spans nearly 8,000 square miles, with the Chaco Culture National Historical Park at its center.
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