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Advocates and Indigenous Community Leaders, Organizers, and Elders Rally at BLM Santa Fe

July 20, 2016
Rebecca Sobel, (267) 402-0724, rsobel@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
#GreaterChaco, #KeepItInTheGround

Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Advocates and Indigenous Community Leaders, Organizers, and Elders Rally at BLM Santa Fe

Despite Auction Postponement, Citizens Renew the Call to Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground
Contact: Rebecca Sobel, (267) 402-0724, rsobel@wildearthguardians.org

Additional Contacts:

EleanorBravo, Food & Water Watch, 505-730-8474

KendraPinto, Counselor Chapter House, 773-710-3065

PauletteBlanchard, Absentee Shawnee, 913-687-3006

Santa FeN.M.—Despite recent attempts to marginalize public voices, close to fifty advocatesand indigenous leaders called for an end to new federal fossil fuel leasing atthe Bureau of Land Management (BLM) State Office in Santa Fe today, sharingstories of community members impacted by the Obama Administration’scontroversial oil and gas leasing program.

Dozensof New Mexicans and frontline Navajo advocates were joined by the Protect OurPublic Lands Tour—a caravan of Indigenous storytellers from frackingcommunities, who gave testimonials of personal fracking impacts in front ofBLM’s New Mexico office on the day originally scheduled for the state oil andgas lease sale. Holding banners and signs, attendees will give speeches anddeliver written statements, letters, reports, and petitions to BLM StateDirector Amy Leuders, reinforcing the call to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Comprised of Navajo, Arapaho, Pueblo of Kewa,and Oglala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne tribal members, the Protect Our PublicLands Tour is visiting frontline communities from California to Philadelphia,documenting stories of Native American community members facing impacts offossil fuel extraction and working to transition to renewable energy. AfterSanta Fe, the tour stops in Lake Thunderbird, Ponca, and Tar Creek Oklahoma;Cahokia Mounds State Park, Illinois, and onto Philadelphia for the March for a Clean EnergyRevolution—aJuly 24 gathering on the eve of the Democratic National Convention expected todraw thousands of participants calling for a ban on fracking, an end to federalfossil fuel leasing, and a plan for a just transition to renewable energyalternatives.

“Tribesthroughout the U.S. find themselves under threat from a whole host ofenvironmental harms brought about by the oil and gas industry – increased ratesof cancer and death, more children than ever suffering from chronic medicalconditions, like asthma and heart defects, to name a few,” said Protect OurPublic Lands organizer Paulette Blanchard, Absentee Shawnee. “This theme is notnew. Indigenous communities have been fighting for centuries, going back tocolonial contact to protect our homelands, cultures, and lives, and still wefight. It is time we hold our politicians accountable for what is happening onIndigenous lands as well as public lands. It is about survival now.”

NewMexico Navajo residents are still reeling from last week’s fracking disaster that ignited six brand new WPX wells and 30 temporary storagetanks in a fire that burned forfive days in the Chaco area. Communitymembers also delivered a letter toBLM today, demanding an immediate investigation into the healthand safety impacts of the WPX explosion.

“Thereare explosions in our skies and still no action to protect the people,” saidKendra Pinto, Community Outreach Intern at Counselor Chapter House. “BecauseBLM continues to approve fracking permits without consideration to communityimpacts, we are forced to live in an industrialized frack site which feels likea war zone. Our families are sick, our skies are blackened, but still industrytells us these activities are safe. How many more fires and sick children willit take before we stop this fracking once and for all?”

Morethan 200 demonstrators protested at the last BLM oil and gas lease sale inApril in Santa Fe. Facing growing climate protests, the Bureau of LandManagement abruptly relocated its July 20 oil and gas lease sale from Santa Feto Roswell, New Mexico. After activists protested the short notice in change oflocation, BLM postponed the sale of the 36 parcels covering 13,876 acres of public landto September 1 in Roswell.

“BLM may have postponed this auction,but delays don’t soothe the scars for already impacted communities,” saidRebecca Sobel, Climate & Energy Senior Campaigner at WildEarth Guardians.“It’s time the Obama Administration finally hear the voices of those sufferingfrom oil and gas exploitation right here in New Mexico, and reconcile itscontroversial oil and gas leasing program with climate science and communityneeds. The President can preventfuture disasters by halting new federal fossil fuel leases and safeguardingfrontline communities across the country.”

Instead,the Obama administration and the fossil fuel industry are moving fossil fuelauctions online to avoid climate protests at future auctions. The first onlineauction for onshore oil and gas is slated for September 15 and today is thefirst day of registration for that auction. Thousands of people across thecountry, part of the growing “Keep it in the Ground” movement, have protestedthe auctions in recent months, causing some to be cancelled or postponed.

“Publiclands should be preserved for the public good and should never be used forprofit of the mega and damaging fossil fuel industry,” stressed Eleanor BravoSouthwest Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Voices from all over thiscountry must be heard in Philadelphia as the Democratic National Conventionconvenes later this week. No more fracking, keep fossil fuels in the ground,transition to renewables. Every acre of land dedicated for drilling makes analready grave situation worse.”

ForPhotos from WPX’s well fire Monday July 11: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildearth_guardians/albums/72157668145615084


Some 67million acres of U.S. public lands and waters are already leased to pollutingfossil fuel industries, an area 55 times larger than Grand Canyon National Parkcontaining up to 43 billion tons of potential greenhouse gas pollution. Nearlyone quarter of all U.S. climate pollution already comes from burning fossilfuels extracted from public lands and waters. More than 10 million acres ofpublic lands have been leased to the oil and gas industry since President Obamatook office. However, the BLM has yet to adequatelyconsider climate change impacts of fossil fuel extraction and fracking onpublic land.

LastSeptember, more than 400 organizations called on President Obama to end federalfossil fuel leasing. In November, Senators Merkley (D-Ore.), Sanders (I-Vt.)and others introduced legislation to end new federal fossil fuel leasing andcancel non-producing federal fossil fuel leases. In January, the ObamaAdministration placed a moratorium on federal coal leasing while the Departmentof the Interior studies its impacts on the environment and the economy. TheAdministration has taken no similar action for its public lands oil and gasprogram.

Download theSeptember “Keep It in the Ground” letter to President Obama.

Download Grounded: ThePresidents Power to Fight Climate Change, Protect Public Lands byKeeping Publicly Owned Fossil Fuels in the Ground (this reportdetails the legal authorities with which a president can halt new federalfossil fuel leases).

Download The PotentialGreenhouse Gas Emissions of U.S. Federal Fossil Fuels (this reportquantifies the volume and potential greenhouse gas emissions of remainingfederal fossil fuels) and The PotentialGreenhouse Gas Emissions fact sheet.

Download Over-leased: HowProduction Horizons of Already Leased Federal Fossil Fuels Outlast GlobalCarbon Budgets

Download Public Lands,Private Profits, a report about the corporations that are profiting from climate-destroyingfossil fuel extraction on public lands.

Download theCenter for Biological Diversity’s formal petition calling on the Obama administration to haltall new offshore fossil fuel leasing.

Download WildEarthGuardians’ formal petition calling on theDepartment of the Interior to analyze the climate impacts of the federal oiland gas leasing program and to place a moratorium on new leasing until thatstudy is completed.

Other Contact
Eleanor Bravo, Food & Water Watch, 505-730-8474