Interior Department Hears Diverse Viewpoints On Oil And Gas Policy At Virtual Meeting

By Ron Dungan
Published: Monday, March 29, 2021 - 7:01pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 12:42pm
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Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

The Department of Interior received input on its oil and gas policy last week in a virtual meeting where it heard from a variety of sources. 

One participant recalled that in 2016, an exploding oil well in New Mexico forced about 50 residents in the Chaco Canyon area to evacuate. Many of the residents in the area are Navajo, and they’ve been fighting the impacts of oil and gas drilling for years. They say the Bureau of Land Management has not been responsive.

Panelists from Alaska to New Mexico said the department needs to improve tribal consultation. Nathalie Eddy, of Earthworks, said her group has tracked pollution on public lands. 

“We know that pollution from existing oil and gas facilities on public lands, is already harming health and climate. This pollution is disproportionately impacting poor and marginalized communities, in places like the San Juan and Permian Basins in New Mexico," said Eddy.

The Department of Interior has called for a 60-day halt to new leases on public lands while it evaluates energy policy.

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