Statement: House Committee Considers Bill To Reverse Chaco Canyon Protections

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing on Thursday on a bill that seeks to allow oil and gas drilling on more land around Chaco Canyon. The bill introduced by Rep. Elijah Crane (AZ) would reverse Public Land Order No. 7923 which was enacted last month and protects more than 330,000 acres of federal public lands in New Mexico around Chaco Culture National Historical Park

The Greater Chaco Landscape preserves the historic center of life for Ancestral Puebloans. Over the past few decades, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has leased more than 90% of the federal lands surrounding Chaco Canyon for drilling. Oil and gas companies have drilled more than 37,000 wells in the area. 

In response, Environment America’s Public Lands Campaign Director Ellen Montgomery issued the following statement:

“The people and wildlife who live in the Chaco Canyon area have suffered for years from the environmental degradation and adverse health effects of drilling. We need more nature, not more oil and gas. Secretary Deb Haaland and the Department of the Interior made the right decision when they protected the Greater Chaco Landscape from resource extraction. We’ve made so much progress; this misguided bill to allow more drilling would move us backward.

“The national historical park provides a safe haven for diverse plant and animal species that were once more numerous in the San Juan Basin. In this rare “International Dark Sky Park,” desert wildlife thrive. Elk, bobcats, badgers, bats and lizards all make their homes and raise their families here. 

“We urge members of Congress to oppose H.R.4374 and to support the protection of Chaco Canyon.”