DENVER -- Western Energy Alliance today submitted comments to the U.S. Department of the Interior regarding the Biden Administration’s withdrawal of a 10-mile zone around the Chaco Culture National Historical Park from oil and natural gas leasing and development for a 20-year period. The Alliance urged the department to accept the compromise agreement from the Navajo Nation for a smaller 5-mile buffer zone in order to protect the park while allowing tribal members to benefit from their energy resources.
“The Biden Administration is moving forward with a policy that poses a significant risk to the local economy and the livelihoods of thousands of Navajo mineral owners while ignoring a compromise 5-mile buffer from the Navajo Nation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Alliance. “The administration should not ignore the will of the tribe, which proposed and voted overwhelmingly for the compromise solution. Depriving Navajo families of a major source of income is not only an environmental injustice, but also contrary to basic principles of tribal consultation.”
“Annually, oil and natural gas production delivers approximately $96 million to nearly 21,000 Navajo allottees, including from the area around Chaco Canyon. Although buffer restrictions supposedly would only apply to federally managed lands and not Navajo lands, the interlocking nature of the lands and minerals means that companies will avoid developing within the buffer area. With horizontal drilling, it is impossible to avoid the federal mineral estate when attempting to access pockets of allottee oil and natural gas surrounded by federal lands,” added Sgamma.
For more information, please see the Alliance’s letter to the Interior Department.
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