On April 30, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Farmington Field Office and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) denied requests to suspend the public comment period on the controversial oil and gas drilling plan for the Greater Chaco region. Instead the agencies are planning to hold four ‘virtual public meetings’ starting mid-May on a proposed plan to drill between 2,345 and 3,101 new oil and gas wells in the Greater Chaco Landscape.
With the third highest infection rate in the United States, the Navajo Nation is currently experiencing disproportionate impacts related to coronavirus, and communities are predisposed to exacerbated health risks due to existing fracking in the region. The agencies are exploiting shelter-in-place orders and discriminatory internet access on Tribal lands to steamroll industry’s plan to frack every available inch of the Greater Chaco Landscape. Since 2016, thousands of members of the Greater Chaco Coalition—which is comprised of more than 200 tribal, environmental, and community groups fighting for Greater Chaco protections—have rallied in front of BLM offices in New Mexico at each quarterly oil and gas lease sale, calling on the agency to rein in unchecked fracking.
“The administration’s offer to hold ‘virtual’ meetings is a callous attempt to propel polluter profit by exploiting a public health crisis. These efforts are criminal. Capitalizing off a pandemic to steamroll revenue-negative fracking is truly a new low,” said Rebecca Sobel, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner, WildEarth Guardians.
Read the press release.