Advocates Call for Protecting Entire Greater Chaco Landscape, Climate

In response to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s decision today to prohibit new federal oil and gas leasing within 10 miles of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, members of the Greater Chaco Coalition called on the Biden administration to end all new federal fossil fuel leasing across the country.

The coalition also called on the administration to do more to live up to its promises to develop a landscape-level approach for resource management in the Greater Chaco region and address the climate crisis.

By Interior’s own estimates, the mineral withdrawal around Chaco Park will have minimal impact on oil and gas drilling. Meanwhile, Diné communities living outside the 10-mile buffer face growing threats from oil and gas pollution.

Under the Biden administration, the United States continues to be the biggest producer of oil and gas in the world. Biden approved more drilling permits on public lands in his first two years in office than Trump. The administration rubber-stamped Trump-era leases in the Greater Chaco Landscape and recently approved the massive Willow project in Alaska amid widespread opposition.

In breaking with Biden’s promise to end new oil and gas leasing, the Bureau of Land Management is planning to auction more than half a million acres of public and ancestral lands for oil and gas drilling by the end of 2023. The agency continues to permit new extraction in the Greater Chaco region despite federal appeals court rulings in 2019 and 2023 that the Bureau’s chronic failure to account for the cumulative air, water, and climate harm from fracking violates the National Environmental Policy Act.

The coalition continues to call for an end to fossil fuel leasing and development across the entire Greater Chaco Landscape and the country, uplifting longstanding demands for environmental justice, meaningful Tribal consultation and community consent, and an end to extractive colonialism.

“For the past two years, Native Organizers Alliance has worked to support the Greater Chaco Coalition in their call on the Biden administration to protect the Greater Chaco Landscape,” Judith Le Blanc of Native Organizers Alliance. “Today’s announcement to prohibit new federal oil and gas leasing in Greater Chaco is a positive step forward. Now is the time for the federal government to respond with urgency to the acceleration of threats to our sacred places from climate change and fossil fuel extraction. We must move from consultation to fortifying our constitutional guaranteed treaty rights to the international standard of prior and informed consent from our Tribes and Native communities. President Biden’s commitment to environmental justice and Tribal sovereignty must be at the forefront of transitioning to a cleaner, more sustainable future for all.”