Bureau of Land Management to reassess oil and gas drilling near Chaco Canyon

By Ron Dungan
Published: Monday, January 10, 2022 - 3:40pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2022 - 9:25am
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Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

The Bureau of Land Management will evaluate its policies on oil- and gas-rich lands near the Navajo Nation, surrounding Chaco Canyon National Historical Park.

The proposal will have no impact on existing leases.

The BLM has proposed withdrawing about 350,000 acres from new leases in order to assess areas that might be sensitive to northwest New Mexico tribes.

The action follows a Biden administration move to halt new leases; the BLM will now assess its management of the region.

Conservationists point out that about 90% of the area has already been leased.

“All the low-hanging fruit for oil and gas has already been picked. This is the last vestige of basically a dying industry,” said Mario Atencio of the activist group Dine C.A.R.E.

The announcement kicks off a series of public meetings and a 90-day comment period that will end April 6.