In spite of calls from the Navajo Nation for a moratorium on fracking in the Greater Chaco region of northwestern New Mexico, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management has continued to rubberstamp industry demands for more drilling permits.
As we wrote earlier this year, it’s as if the Bureau of Land Management couldn’t care less about the concerns of the Navajo Nation or any Tribal interests for that matter.
But now, the Bureau of Land Management is taking their disregard for Tribal concerns to new heights. Citing President Trump’s demands that American public lands be auctioned off to the fossil fuel industry, the agency is moving ahead with plans to sell nearly 4,500 acres of lands for fracking in the Greater Chaco region in March of 2018.
Many of these lands are within 20 miles of Chaco Canyon, the heart of the Greater Chaco region.
Unbelievably, many of these lands are even within 10 miles of Chaco Canyon, an area even the Bureau of Land Management agrees should be off limits to fracking. The agency claims these parcels will be “deferred” from sale, but all that means is that they’ll be offered for sale another time. That’s little consolation and no assurance at all that the Bureau of Land Management under President Trump cares at all about protecting the Greater Chaco region.
This maps shows where the lands are located in proximity to Chaco Culture National Historical Park and a 10 and 20-mile buffer. It also shows the location of Navajo Chapters and outlying Chacoan Great House ruins, and if you click on the layers, you can also see where existing wells and existing oil and gas leases are located. Click on the map below or click here to see what’s at stake.
It’s obvious that this is another slap in the face to the Navajo Nation from President Trump and his Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke. More importantly, it’s another sign that Trump and Zinke have absolute disregard for American public lands and the cultural heritage they sustain.
Understandably, the proposal is drawing intense condemnation, including from New Mexico U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich.
It’s no wonder. While the Bureau of Land Management is bending over backward for industry, the agency itself has acknowledged it has no plan in place to protect public health, cultural resources, Tribal communities, and the environment from fracking.
In fact, while the agency announced it intends to develop a new plan to protect Greater Chaco, it’s become increasingly clear the Bureau of Land Management may have no intention of following through, effectively breaking its promises to the Navajo Nation and the American public.
One need only see what’s happening on the ground in the region to understand that under President Trump, the Bureau of Land Management seems to have no interest in protecting anything or anyone from the devastating impacts of fossil fuel development.
Together with our allies, WildEarth Guardians will be weighing in on these latest plans, confronting Trump and Zinke, and defending Greater Chaco. With so much at stake, we can’t afford to launch the most aggressive defense possible.
Stay tuned for more as we step up our efforts to safeguard the Greater Chaco region.