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New Mexicans demand end to fossil fuels in historic New York climate march

September 18, 2023
Rebecca Sobel, (505) 216-6826, rsobel@wildearthguardians.org
In This Release
Climate + Energy  
#ClimateJustice, #FrackOffChaco, #GreaterChaco, #JustTransition, #KeepItInTheGround, #PressStatement
NEW YORK— A delegation of more than 50 Indigenous, environmental, youth and frontline advocates from New Mexico joined more than 10,000 people from across the country and world today to march in the streets of Manhattan and demand that the U.S. end its extraction and use of fossil fuels. The mass mobilization took place ahead of the first United Nations Climate Ambition Summit on Sept. 20, when U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will urge world leaders to make commitments to phase out fossil fuels.

“A collective of grassroots movements across the state of New Mexico is joining other frontline movements who mobilize around a No False Solutions narrative to bring light to the financialization and continued commodification of our natural and cultural resources,” said Julia Bernal, executive director of Pueblo Action Alliance. “We’re bringing a unified grassroots message to the international platform to demand our elected leaders take bold climate action that doesn’t continue the legacy of harm and extraction that has negatively impacted our ancestral territories for generations.”

New Mexico is the second-largest oil-producing and seventh-largest gas-producing state in the country. Over the past three years, New Mexico has experienced the highest growth in oil production in the U.S. Of the 6,430 drilling permits the Biden administration approved in its first two years, nearly 4,000 are on public lands administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s New Mexico Office. Climate pollution from the combustion of oil and gas extracted in New Mexico contributes significantly to the climate crisis.

“As governor of the country’s second-largest oil-producing state, Michelle Lujan Grisham is detonating one of the world’s most dangerous carbon bombs,” said Silas Grant with the Center for Biological Diversity. “As New Mexicans, we marched to tell her she can become a real climate leader by preventing further oil and gas expansion in our state. The future of our planet depends on it.”

New Mexico delegates also delivered a grassroots climate justice declaration to the United Nations and federal and state leaders. Endorsed by more than 20 Indigenous and environmental organizations, the declaration outlines actions the Biden and Lujan Grisham administrations must take to secure a just and livable future for New Mexico and the planet. These include stopping all new fossil fuel projects and revoking existing permits, immediately phasing out existing fossil fuel extraction, rejecting false solutions like hydrogen and carbon capture and sequestration, centering Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge, and declaring a climate emergency to pave the way for a just transition.

“Coalitions like Frack off Chaco and NM No False Solutions are composed of organizers who are from their respective communities and we are leaving our homes in New Mexico to make our messaging known, “ said Alejandria Lyons, coordinator of NM No False Solutions. “If we want to preserve our collective knowledge for future generations then we have to protect the land to protect the people and the culture. The fossil fuel industry is a threat to our land-based ways of life, and these proposed ‘solutions’ give false hope to people when they are nothing more than climate finance scams.”

Indigenous leaders and youth holding an 18-foot banner that read “New Mexico is Burning, Biden and MLG: Climate Action Now!” led the New Mexico delegation in the march.

New Mexico is already experiencing the catastrophic consequences of the changing climate, including wildfires, record-breaking temperatures and aridification. Almost all of New Mexico’s climate pollution comes from the state’s oil and gas industry.

Additional statements by members of the New Mexico delegation: 

“Our homelands are not for sale and the Navajo Nation isn’t a waste site for corrupt officials and industries,” said Cheyenne Antonio, coordinator of the Greater Chaco Coalition for Diné C.A.R.E. “We demand that the Biden and Lujan Grisham administrations end fossil fuel extraction now!”

“Young people in New Mexico are rising up to say we will not sit by and watch our futures melt, burn and dry up,” said Jonathan Juárez, media justice organizer with Youth United for Climate Crisis Action. “You cannot extinguish our futures without a fight. We deserve and demand better from our leadership. Climate crisis impacts have reached every corner of our state. Our forests are burned, our fields are drying up, our water is declining and what’s left is being polluted by industry. Our relatives in the Four Corners and Permian are suffering inexcusable health and environmental burdens from the poisons of oil and gas extraction. But we are not helpless. We will not be sacrificed for short-sighted profits. We are marching in New York and organizing every day back home to hold our government accountable for a swift and comprehensive just transition and an end to the fossil-fuel era. Our time has come.”

“New Mexico has been ground zero for Amerikkka’s climate crisis for over a century and we must bring an end to fueling these energy addicted fiends,” said Krystal Curley, executive director of Indigenous Lifeways. “Indigenous earth-based knowledge is the essence of our existence for millennia and is the solution to climate change. We cannot continue to support corporate politicians and corrupt systems. Fossil Fuels + Man Camps = MMIWR (missing and murdered Indigenous relatives) cases! Stop the Murder of Mother Earth and Indigenous Relatives! Stop Fossil Fuels NOW! No more extractive war crimes! No more Energy War Pigs!”

“New Mexico has already failed its citizens in its lack of protection from exploitative industries,” said Jozee Zuniga, a Permian resident with Youth United for Climate Crisis Action. “Children in the Permian basin spend their afternoons playing under flares. Our grandparents have fracking operations in their backyards. It’s time for New Mexico to step up and put the health and wellbeing of New Mexicans, especially those living on the frontlines, first.”

“The climate crisis is the most heartbreaking issue that we see today,” said Celina Montoya-Garcia (Ohkay Owingeh), land & body violence coordinator with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women. “It’s destroying the future of sustainability for our future grandchildren. Not only are the pipeline and oil industries depleting our life source, but they are also precipitating violence against ‘Our First Environment.’ Our life-givers are facing high rates of gender-based violence from non-Indigenous perpetrators working in temporary man camps. We must protect our Mother Earth. This isn’t just an Indigenous issue; it’s an everyone issue. Money doesn’t water the food that feeds our community. Money doesn’t water the corn that we hold in our palms for prayer. Our Mother Earth is perishing before our eyes. New Mexico has a plethora of renewable resources that are being ignored. Decisionmakers must stop fossil fuel production immediately.”

“Fossil fuels have created so much destruction in Navajo communities,” said Hazel James Tohe, coordinator of San Juan Collaborative for Health Equity and Diné Centered Research and Evaluation. “We’re feeling the impacts of climate change every day. We’re marching to stand up for the generations to come, for our rights to clean air, land, water and to practice our lifeways.”

“Ten years ago, we did not know where and which way we were going to go,” said Samuel Sage, board president for Diné C.A.R.E. “Today, we’re joining the march to stand with people and make our voices heard because our Navajo communities have been greatly impacted by fossil fuel extraction. It needs to stop.”

“We’ve challenged federal fossil fuel leasing in the courts – and won,” said Rebecca Sobel, organizing director with WildEarth Guardians. “Now frontline and Indigenous New Mexican youth, elders and advocates are taking to the streets of New York City to challenge the Biden and Lujan Grisham administrations to finally follow through with their promises of real climate action, demanding an end to the sacrifice of New Mexico’s lands, clean air, water and communities to more fossil fuels.”

“There is absolutely, without a doubt, no future for anyone without an end to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – quickly,” said Melissa Troutman, Permian resident and climate and energy advocate with WildEarth Guardians. “After over 13 years on the frontlines in places where extraction occurs, I can tell you without hesitation, that people are dying as a direct result. Our elders and our children are riddled with strange diseases and cancers that health professionals are just now linking to the extraction of fossil fuels. But we have known it all along. It is well past time for everyone to demand that this atrocity inside our communities and across the world come to an end.”

“Extreme weather is impacting families – during this summer’s heat dome over the Southwest, in the 100 degree heat my son experienced a minor heat stroke – becoming dizzy and needing to immediately lie down,” said Anni Hanna, director of NM Climate Justice. “It worries me as a parent that it is no longer safe for our kids to play outside for long hours in the summer heat. At the same time, in July, my parent’s family farm in Massachusetts flooded overnight after unprecedented rainfall – causing chickens to wash away and all the crops for the season to be ruined. There’s no escaping the climate crisis. It’s time to end the era of fossil fuels to protect our health and our future.”

“New Mexico is blessed with abundant solar and wind resources but rather than actualize that potential too often politicians have pandered to the financial pressure of their donors, especially the oil and gas industry, and promoted false solutions like dangerous hydrogen and carbon capture and sequestration,” said Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy. “We have no time to waste and people are hungry for leadership that brings renewable results.”

“Climate change is a tragedy our relatives are sadly experiencing,” said Wendy Atcitty, member of Diné Centered Research and Evaluation. “We need to stop the reliance on a carbon-based economy and invest in renewable energy. The wind and sun have always provided what we need.”

Members of the New Mexico delegation at the March to End Fossil Fuels in New York City on September 17, 2023. Photo credit: John Acosta. Image is available for media use.

Other Contact
Julia Bernal, Pueblo Action Alliance, (505) 220-0051, julia@puebloactionalliance.org, Alejandria Lyons, New Mexico No False Solutions Coalition, nmnofalsesolutions@gmail.com, Jonathon Juárez, Youth United for Climate Crisis Action, (505) 420-9498, yucca@earthcarenm.org, Cheyenne Antonio, Diné C.A.R.E., (505) 377-1862, c.antonio40@gmail.com, Hazel James, San Juan Collaborative for Health Equity, (505) 486-4420, hazbah4nm@gmail.com, Wendy Atcitty, Diné Centered Research and Evaluation, (505) 716-3229, w.atcitty@gmail.com, Silas Grant, Center for Biological Diversity, (312) 286-9511, sgrant@biologicaldiversity.org