NATIONAL NEWS

Biden to enforce ban on oil, gas drilling to protect tribal sites around New Mexico’s Chaco

Jun 2, 2023, 3:03 AM | Updated: 3:16 am

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Biden administration is implementing a 20-year withdrawal banning oil and gas development outside the boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in northwestern New Mexico.

The action taken by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in the nation’s No. 2 oil-producing state was announced Friday. It is intended to protect cultural and historic resources that tribal communities consider sacred.

The order will apply to public lands and federal mineral within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius.

President Joe Biden initially proposed this ban in November 2021 at the White House Tribal Nations Summit.

The withdrawal applies only to federal public lands, not to entities that are privately, state or tribal-owned. Existing leases won’t be impacted either.

This is a victory for members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation who have been pushing to make such a stop on oil and gas development permanent.

Democrats reintroduced legislation last month that would formalize the same buffer around the park. It would span more than 490 square miles (1,269 square kilometers) of federal land.

The Navajo Nation also completed its own study last year and has been advocating for a smaller area to be set aside given the economic impacts a withdrawal would have on the tribe and individual Navajo landowners whose allotments would be landlocked as a result.

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Biden to enforce ban on oil, gas drilling to protect tribal sites around New Mexico’s Chaco