For Immediate Release
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has agreed to extend the comment period on a plan to lease public land around Chaco Canyon Historical Park for oil and gas drilling.
This comes after weeks of urging from grassroots advocates, tribal, and political leaders who pushed for an extension due to the COVID pandemic. The Bureau of Land Management held online “virtual” meetings last week, which effectively excluded members of the Navajo Nation who are most impacted by this plan, as high speed internet access is limited in the region.
Over three days, Food & Water Action members sent over 12,000 letters Secretary Bernhardt demanding an extension, and calling for a new resource management plan for the area.
In response, Food & Water Action organizer Margaret Wadsworth released the following statement:
“This extension is a victory for the communities fighting to protect Chaco and the people whose health and well-being are threatened by more fracking. The Bureau of Land Management should have made this decision in the first place. The Navajo Nation has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and could not meaningfully participate in hearings where their voices would be essential. The real task for the BLM is to create a plan that puts the protection of our air, water, and health first, and not the interests of oil and gas corporations.”