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Greater Chaco Coalition calls for stronger protection efforts for the Greater Chaco landscape in response to congressional hearing

July 13, 2023
Rebecca Sobel, (505) 216-6826, rsobel@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
#FrackOffChaco, #GreaterChaco, #KeepItInTheGround, #PressStatement

Counselor, N.M. – Responding to a Congressional hearing to be held today by the Committee on Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resource, the Greater Chaco Coalition (Frack Off Chaco) reaffirms its unwavering commitment to safeguard the culturally significant Greater Chaco Landscape. The Coalition is voicing its concerns over the proposed bill that threatens to nullify the Biden administration’s administrative withdrawal, and hinder the progress made through the Honoring Chaco Initiative.

Addressing the controversy surrounding H.R. 4374, the Greater Chaco Coalition has issued a compelling open letter, signed by 111 organizations, urging Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to reinforce her commitment to the Honoring Chaco Initiative. The Coalition recognizes the immense promise of this initiative in preserving the sacred landscape and addressing the legacy impacts of sacrifice zones, all while prioritizing critical principles of health, justice, equity, and sustainability in the management of the region.

In a powerful display of solidarity and shared vision, Cheyenne Antonio, a Navajo Nation Citizen and Greater Chaco Coordinator for Diné C.A.R.E., submitted written testimony on behalf of the Greater Chaco Coalition during the hearing. Testimony was also given by Kendra Pinto, a local community member and Four Corners Indigenous Community Field Advocate at Earthworks, Samuel Sage, Navajo Nation Counselor Chapter Community Services Coordinator, Dr. David J. Tsosie, Medicine Man and researcher with Diné Centered Research and Evaluation, Mario Atencio, Vice President of Torreon/Starlake Chapter of the Navajo Nation Government, and former Council Delegate for the Navajo Nation Council, Daniel Tso. Their impassioned voices highlighted significant milestones and the overwhelming support garnered over the years for greater protections of the Greater Chaco Landscape.

The Greater Chaco Coalition has long advocated for decisive action against unchecked fossil fuel extraction in the Greater Chaco region, which poses threats to ancestral tribal and public lands, clean air and water, and community health. Millions of voices from diverse stakeholders have joined the coalition in calling for an end to the costly and unsustainable industrial exploitation.

In their letter to Secretary Haaland, the Greater Chaco Coalition urges her to continue championing the Honoring Chaco Initiative, setting the stage for a new era in the management of public lands and resources in the region. The coalition emphasizes the need for winding down and phasing out fossil fuel exploitation, implementing Tribal co-management strategies, ensuring comprehensive protection and restoration of the region’s air, water, and land, and allocating resources to foster economic security and sustainability for affected communities.

The Greater Chaco Coalition, consisting of Indigenous community leaders, Native organizations, nonprofits, and public lands and water protectors, expresses profound gratitude for Secretary Haaland’s leadership and unwavering dedication to protecting the Greater Chaco region. The coalition stands firmly in support of Secretary Haaland amidst personal attacks, recognizing her pivotal role in protecting and honoring Indigenous sacred lands.

Over the past decade, the Greater Chaco Coalition has garnered resounding support from Indigenous communities, conservation organizations, and concerned citizens in its efforts to protect Greater Chaco. Resolutions from numerous Navajo Nation chapters, protests against federal lease sales, impact assessments, joint statements, and landmark court rulings underscore the broad commitment to safeguarding this cherished landscape.

About the Greater Chaco Coalition (Frack Off Chaco): The Greater Chaco Coalition is a dynamic collaboration between Indigenous community leaders, Native organizations, nonprofits, and public lands and water protectors. Guided by the Jemez principles, the coalition advocates for greater protections for the Greater Chaco Landscape, demanding an end to sacrifice zones, meaningful Tribal and community consultation, consideration of cumulative impacts, and the advancement of environmental justice and just transitions beyond extraction. For more information, visit www.frackoffchaco.org.

See the Letter to Secretary Haaland here.

See the Greater Chaco Coalition Testimony here.

Members of the Greater Chaco Coalition rally and deliver nearly 80,000 comments to the Bureau of Land Management demanding greater protections for the Greater Chaco Landscape and surrounding communities from expanded oil and gas activities.
Photo credit: Evalyn Bemis


Other Contact
Kendra Pinto, Earthworks, kpinto@earthworksaction.org, (505) 686-1881, Samuel Sage, Navajo Nation Counselor Chapter House, samuelsage@hotmail.com, (505) 360-5865, Janene Yazzie, NDN Collective, janene@ndncollective.org, (505) 879-0581