STOP THE COLONIAL LAND GRAB SHUTDOWN BLM LEASES!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Santa Fe, New Mexico​​—The Red Nation (TRN) to protest the auction of over 84,000 acres in New Mexico for industrialized fracking.

WHO​​: TRN-Albuquerque & TRN-Santa Fe

WHAT​​: Protest & rally to shut down the December 2018 oil and gas lease in New Mexico

WHEN​​: Wednesday, December 5, 2018 from 12PM-2PM

WHERE​​: Bureau of Land Management (BLM) New Mexico State Office, 301 Dinosaur Trail, Santa Fe, NM, 87508

On December 5 and 6, the BLM will initiate a historic two-day oil and gas online auction in New Mexico. Parcels up for lease in the state include more than 43,000 acres in the Greater Chaco region of northwest New Mexico and 41,000 acres in southeast New Mexico’s Greater Carlsbad Caverns region. In addition to the 84,000 acres in New Mexico, the BLM will lease over 300,000 acres in Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Missouri, Ohio, and Michigan. New Mexico is second to only Utah as the state with the highest number of acres on the chopping block for this cluster of lease sales.

On October 31, 2018, over 10,000 formal protest letters opposing the upcoming December lease sales were hand-delivered to the BLM State Office in Santa Fe. Working against the clock of a narrow window for public commenting, tribal and environmental organizations collected the largest number ever submitted in the history of New Mexico oil and gas development.

The BLM Farmington Field Office deferred the sale of four parcels totaling 1,040 acres that were within the 10-mile proposed protection zone of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, but the December sale will still auction off seven parcels totaling 2,506 acres from the BLM Farmington Field Office and 30 parcels totaling 40,762 acres from the BLM Rio Puerco Field Office, as oil and gas development in the Greater Chaco region moves further south into Sandoval County, NM. 

These parcels are adjacent to many Navajo communities whose residents have already suffered devastating impacts from the fracking currently taking place near their communities. Much of the land in the San Juan Basin of the Greater Chaco area and in the Permian Basin around Greater Carlsbad Caverns is already leased for fracking. Residents of these communities have been dealing with the detrimental impacts of resource extraction for decades. Greater Chaco residents have reported unsafe road conditions, poor air quality, negative impacts to livestock, light and noise pollution, psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, increased rates of cancer, higher rates of respiratory problems with children and elders, and more.

In March, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke deferred the lease sale of 25 land parcels totalling 4,334 acres of land in Greater Chaco, calling for more cultural assessments  and tribal consultation after receiving over 400 formal protest letters. Despite the fact that no additional study or tribal consultation has occurred, the BLM now plans to auction off 43,268 acres of public and ancestral land in the area, including an additional 11,000 acres slated for sale in March 2019. 

Because Indigenous communities depend upon the land and are bound to the land for sustenance and survival, the effects of resource extraction are more profoundly felt. Sacred sites within these proposed lease parcels are threatened as well. Despite repeated calls for a comprehensive landscape-wide ethnographic study, BLM has not collaborated with Pueblos, the Navajo Nation, nor Chapter Houses to conduct any cultural resource surveys in protection of sacred sites. The Greater Chaco region has been home to both Pueblo and Diné people for millennia. Our history and oral traditions are under threat from resource extraction, as is the health of our communities and the elders who hold this history.

Local communities have been outspoken in their opposition to fracking in the area. Fifteen Navajo Chapter Houses, including the Eastern Navajo Agency Council and Tri-Chapter Council, have repeatedly called for a moratorium on new drilling and leasing and for the new resource management plan to adequately analyze and address the oil and gas impacts that communities regularly endure. All of these communities are in the center of new industrialized fracking development in Greater Chaco. Both drilling areas in New Mexico have not completed Resource Management Planning processes. The December lease sale has been widely criticized by tribal and non-tribal entities including the All Pueblo Council of Governors, the Navajo Nation, and Governor-elect Michelle Lujan-Grisham.

The Red Nation calls upon all water protectors, land defenders, and warriors to join this growing opposition on December 5th and SHUT DOWN BLM LEASES! Many have rallied around the Native nations and fierce land defenders who are fighting to protect Bears Ears National Monument from oil and gas development. We call upon all good people of the earth to unite with our relatives to protect Bears Ears and Chaco Canyon from this latest colonial land grab.

#NoNewLeases #ProtectChacoCanyon #FrackOffChaco #FrackOffNM #WaterIsLife #KeepItInTheSoil #CantDrinkOil

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