After Interior Secretary David Bernhardt toured Chaco Culture National Historical Park with Senator Martin Heinrich on Tuesday, May 28, he promised to defer oil and gas leasing for one year within 10 miles of the park—giving Congress time to consider the recently reintroduced Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act. But the Greater Chaco Coalition is concerned that Bernhardt’s promises won’t be enough to ensure the protection of Greater Chaco and its communities.
While Bernhardt’s moratorium may provide temporary respite from the Bureau of Land Management’s offering parcels near the park for oil and gas leasing, the truth is that his moratorium is much weaker than former Interior Secretary Zinke’s call to defer oil and gas leasing pending “analysis of more than 5,000 cultural sites in the proposed leasing area.” Such an analysis would make it clear that the impacts of fracking extend far beyond Bernhardt’s proposed 10-mile buffer.
The Greater Chaco Coalition is also calling on the Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Indian Affairs to follow through on Bernhardt’s statement calling for a new Resource Management Plan for Chaco, which would allow comprehensive planning for the region, provide landscape-level protection, and preserve the health of communities.
Read the press release.