New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard signed an executive order Saturday (April 27), placing a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on nearly 73,000 acres in an area of …
New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands Stephanie Garcia Richard signed an executive order Saturday (April 27), placing a moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on nearly 73,000 acres in an area of Northwest New Mexico known as the Greater Chaco Region.
The region is laced with oil and gas drilling infrastructure, including extraction equipment, water systems and roads. Native and environmental activists have been trying for years to have drilling reevaluated, and in some cases banned, in the areas around Chaco Canyon, which is a sacred site to Pueblo and Navajo communities.
Garcia Richard also created the Chaco Canyon Land Office Working Group, whose first meeting happened right after the signing at the Navajo Nation Counselor Chapter House, according to a press release from the land office.
"We are grateful for the historic partnership established in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation between the All Pueblo Council of Governors, the Navajo Nation, the New Mexico State Land Office, our entire New Mexico Congressional Delegation and other stakeholders, and look forward to continued collaboration that affirms the protection of Greater Chaco as an ongoing part of our collective story -- past, present and future," said All Pueblo Council of Governors Chairman E. Paul Torres in the release.
"Limiting development in the region will only disrupt the largest and most successful part of New Mexico's economy and will rob local communities of jobs and economic growth opportunities," said Robert McEntyre, director of communications for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.
The next working group meeting will take place May 19 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at San Juan College in Farmington.
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