Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate
Navajo and Environmental Groups Take the Greater Chaco Fracking Fight to BLM’s Farmington Office
On May11, 2015, several groups, representing members from throughout the area and beyond, filed in federal court a request for a preliminary injunction on all Farmington BLM fracking activities. Since January 1, 2013, BLM has approved 265permits to frack in the Mancos shale. Local community members are watching these permits develop into fracking pads almost weekly. Ninety-one wells have already been drilled, fracked, and flared. BLM has not, however, conducted necessary environmental review of this industrial development and has no comprehensive plan to protect the region’s air, water, people, and cultural values from fracking.
“This used to be a very quiet area,” said Daniel Tso, community member and former Council Delegate from Torreon Chapter of Navajo Nation. ”But the effects of this new fracking boom are now being felt. Snarled truck traffic, damaged roads, flares, and especially the loud sounds and foul smells of this development are now pervading our community.” Fracking uses chemicals known to cause long-term harm to organs and body systems, including impacts to skin, eyes,sensory organs, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, and the liver. One of the more recent fracking wells in the region is within a third of a mile from Lybrook Elementary School.
Tso continued, “The Greater Chaco area may be a checkerboard of ownership, but Big Oil companies and BLM are playing by rules they make up along the way.”
The Greater Chaco region is one of America’s most important landscapes because of its unique environmental and cultural setting. It is home to ancestral and contemporary Native American tribes, including the Navajo, or Diné, that rely on the land both to sustain their livelihoods and for traditional ceremonial practices. While the ancient Chacoan sites within Chaco Culture National Historical Park remain protected, there are hundreds of Great Houses and hundreds of miles of ancient ceremonial roads outside of the Park’s boundaries that remain unstudied and without protection.
“The BLM is fracking this region to disaster,” said Rebecca Sobel, community organizer for WildEarth Guardians. “It’s time BLM stops rubber-stamping permits to drill and starts planning to protect these communities, their traditional culture, and our climate.”
“Senator Udall has called for BLM officials to get out from behind their Washington desks and come here to see the mess that is being made,” said Tim Ream, climate and energy campaign director for WildEarth Guardians. “It’s shameful. BLM is running roughshod over native communities and 1000 years of culture and history, and they don’t even have a legal plan in place to do it.”
The groups, led by Navajo elders, joined together this past weekend at Chaco Cultural National Historical Park to share stories of Chaco’s past, the current situation with fracking, and hopes for the near future.