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Greater Chaco advocates travel from New Mexico to call on congress for environmental justice for Greater Chaco

Date
December 15, 2022
Contact
Rebecca Sobel, WildEarth Guardians, (267) 402-0724, rsobel@wildearthguardians.org,
In This Release
Climate + Energy, Public Lands  
#ClimateJustice, #KeepItInTheGround

Washington, D.C. —  A delegation of Indigenous community leaders and Greater Chaco protectors traveled from New Mexico to Washington D.C. to lobby members of congress for Greater Chaco protections, and premiere a film screening of the award-winning Our Story: The Indigenous Led Fight to Protect Greater Chaco (film trailer) which showcases the threats the Greater Chaco Landscape and its communities face from continued oil and gas leasing and drilling.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.) spoke at the premiere, who support the Chaco Cultural Heritage Protection Act of 2022 that would permanently withdraw future federal minerals from leasing within a 10-mile buffer of Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Other agency officials attended as well.

Following the film, Greater Chaco Coalition delegates hosted a panel featuring Chairman Daniel Tso (Navajo Nation Council Delegate and Our Story Co-Director), Samuel Sage (Vice-President of the Board of Diné C.A.R.E.), Kendra Pinto (Four Corners Indigenous Community Field Advocate for Earthworks and Our Story Co-Producer), Mario Atencio (Greater Chaco Energy Organizer for Diné C.A.R.E. and Our Story consultant), and Somah Haaland (Media Organizer for Pueblo Action Alliance and narrator of Our Story), moderated by Rebecca Sobel (Organizing Director for WildEarth Guardians and Our Story consultant). The panel thanked the New Mexico delegation for their support and reaffirmed the Greater Chaco Coalitions’ call for cumulative impact analysis, landscape-level planning, clean-up and remediation, and meaningful consultation.

Background:

The Greater Chaco region is a living and ancient cultural landscape held sacred by Indigenous Nations and Tribes throughout the Americas, with Chaco Canyon, a National Historical Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in northwest New Mexico at its center. For over a century, the Greater Chaco region has been under siege by an onslaught of oil and gas drilling, negatively impacting public health, air, water, climate, and cultural resources. Spills, leaks, and explosions happen daily, while Diné communities experience poor air quality, increased traffic and accidents, health effects, and other negative impacts related to an increase of industrialized oil and gas activities.

In recent years, the Bureau of Land Management has skirted updates to its resource management plans, rubberstamping multistage horizontal fracking without ever analyzing the cumulative impacts of this technology. The Greater Chaco Coalition has long called on the Bureau to pause new oil and gas activities until the cumulative impacts of industrialized fracking are studied, meaningful tribal consultation and consent has occurred, and landscape-level protections for the region are assured.

In response to longstanding calls for protection, in 2021, Interior Secretary Haaland launched the first of its kind Honoring Chaco Initiative (HCI), a collaborative approach to cultural landscape management in the region, which the Greater Chaco Coalition hopes will finally address the cumulative impacts of oil and gas extraction across the Greater Chaco Landscape and chart a path towards justice for Greater Chaco communities.

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