Environmental groups sue federal government over oil production lease approvals

By Greg Hahne
Associated Press
Published: Friday, October 28, 2022 - 3:47pm

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Deb Haaland
U.S. Department of the Interior
Deb Haaland

Environmental groups are suing the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland over an area that has been eyed for increased oil and gas development. 

The groups contend the federal government is going back on its word by clearing the way for energy development on federal lands near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

They say the federal government agreed in April to reconsider Trump-era leases given the areas are close to homes.

On Thursday, the BLM said that the parcels in question in northwestern New Mexico are outside an informal 10-mile buffer zone that Haaland said would continue for 20 years. 

Navajo Nation officials have argued for a smaller area to be protected because they say its tribe’s economy would benefit from oil and gas development.

However, Hopi Tribe leaders supported Haaland’s move to continue to observe the buffer zone, saying it protected cultural resources. 

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