Take Action to Defend Chaco – Ask BLM to Act Humanely

After almost a decade of plodding analysis, the Bureau of Land Management’s Farmington Field Office is attempting to rush through a plan to authorize thousands more oil and gas wells surging towards Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Your voice is critical to actively protect Chaco and nearby communities to the greatest extent possible by urging the BLM to pause in its newfound haste. All comment are due by May 28th.

What’s Happening:

The Navajo Nation is currently grappling with one of the worst outbreaks of Covid-19 in the entire United States. The BLM refuses to pause in its mad rush to approve more drilling, and the agency’s haste to ram through its drilling plans during this crisis is beyond callous. Because in-person meetings typical of engagement with nearby communities are now clearly off-limits, BLM instead proposes to allow for only virtual public meetings. For communities most lacking in broadband internet connectivity, BLM’s insensitivity defies belief.

You can help impacted communities by pressing BLM to conduct itself with common human decency and take all possible actions to protect communities and Chaco from expanded development.

About Chaco:

Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a World Heritage Site owing to its extraordinary cultural significance to over two dozen Native American tribes and its historical value. Chaco is an International Dark Sky Park where today visitors can experience the same dark sky that the Chacoans observed a thousand years ago.

The industrial network supporting oil and gas extraction already weaves through and over the top of many nearby tribal communities, bringing dangerous traffic, pollution, and safety considerations. Encroaching oil and gas development will bring light pollution, noise from compressors and drilling operations, dust and traffic, and surface destruction of vanishing features like the renowned Chacoan road system.

BLM’s plan is our chance to insist on balanced uses that prioritize protection of Chaco’s cultural values and nearby communities.

Personalize Your Comments

Our recommended comments are detailed below. Communicate these in your own words on the BLM’s e-Planning Website. Note: you do not need to fill in the “chapter” or “section” reference fields in the BLM form.

Many of us have connections to this area- base your comments on your personal experiences for greater impact.

BLM is also hosting virtual public meetings May 14 – 18. Information about participating is available here.

Make your comments by clicking on the red button below- if you comment on this page the BLM will not see it.

Talking Points

  • After a decade of slowly working on this EIS, now all of a sudden BLM is rushing this project through without real opportunities for impacted communities to participate. BLM needs to hold off and agree to the requests by Tribal officials, Governor Grisham, and New Mexico’s congressional delegation to allow for meaningful involvement by local communities on the Navajo Nation at a future date.
  • BLM must protect Chaco with a minimum 10-mile no leasing buffer around the park.
  • BLM must protect Navajo communities by adopting stringent conditions of approval on existing leases that include protections from noise, traffic, lighting and provide for public safety and community setbacks.
  • BLM should protect the few remaining wild landscapes in northwest New Mexico by prohibiting new leasing or development in Lands with Wilderness Characteristics.
  • BLM needs to evaluate solar energy zones as part of the Resource Management Plan (RMP) amendment in light of significantly changed circumstances around the region’s energy future.

Sample Comments:

I am writing to offer comments on the Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement (RMPA/EIS) to analyze and update resource management issues in the area around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

First, I request that BLM provide an appropriate public comment period at a future date when Navajo communities and northwest New Mexico is not consumed by one of the worst Covid-19 crises in the entire United States. BLM’s insistence on ramming through this plan during a virus epidemic shows disdain and contempt for impacted residents of nearby communities.

Chaco is a world-renowned site of extraordinary cultural, historical, and scientific significance. BLM’s plan first and foremost must guarantee the integrity of these resources. BLM’s plan should strictly prohibit new oil and gas development that could impact Chaco by banning new leasing within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, consistent with action by the U.S. Congress.

BLM must protect communities in the path of oil and gas development from the impacts caused by noise, industrial traffic, lights, dust, air pollution, and the other impacts associated with industrialization. To that end, BLM should prohibit drilling within one mile of homes, schools, clinics, churches, and other buildings. BLM should also adopt rules to control noise, limit nighttime glare from burning gas flares and industrial lighting, and prohibit truck traffic at key times. Finally, BLM should insist energy companies provide for necessary emergency responders and support improved community health and safety assets.

For decades, BLM has prioritized energy development to the exclusion of other resources in northwest New Mexico. BLM should now adopt protections for the last remnants of wild landscapes, and strictly prohibit new leasing and destruction within the three identified lands with wilderness characteristic units.

BLM needs to pivot to supporting the new energy economy, and provide for siting and approval of solar energy projects within the Farmington Field Office as readily as BLM processes and approves fossil fuel projects. The plan amendment should contemplate appropriate solar energy zones like those adjacent to or overlaying existing disturbances at power plants, coal mines, and oil and gas facilities.

Click Here for the BLM Comment Portal

Remember, if you comment on this page the BLM will not see it. Follow the button above to the comment portal

14 Comments

  • Xochitl Maldonado says:

    I am writing to offer comments on the Draft Resource Management Plan Amendment and Environmental Impact Statement (RMPA/EIS) to analyze and update resource management issues in the area around Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

    First, I request that BLM provide an appropriate public comment period at a future date when Navajo communities and northwest New Mexico is not consumed by one of the worst Covid-19 crises in the entire United States. BLM’s insistence on ramming through this plan during a virus epidemic shows disdain and contempt for impacted residents of nearby communities.

    Chaco is a world-renowned site of extraordinary cultural, historical, and scientific significance. BLM’s plan first and foremost must guarantee the integrity of these resources. BLM’s plan should strictly prohibit new oil and gas development that could impact Chaco by banning new leasing within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, consistent with action by the U.S. Congress.

    BLM must protect communities in the path of oil and gas development from the impacts caused by noise, industrial traffic, lights, dust, air pollution, and the other impacts associated with industrialization. To that end, BLM should prohibit drilling within one mile of homes, schools, clinics, churches, and other buildings. BLM should also adopt rules to control noise, limit nighttime glare from burning gas flares and industrial lighting, and prohibit truck traffic at key times. Finally, BLM should insist energy companies provide for necessary emergency responders and support improved community health and safety assets.

    For decades, BLM has prioritized energy development to the exclusion of other resources in northwest New Mexico. BLM should now adopt protections for the last remnants of wild landscapes, and strictly prohibit new leasing and destruction within the three identified lands with wilderness characteristic units.

    BLM needs to pivot to supporting the new energy economy, and provide for siting and approval of solar energy projects within the Farmington Field Office as readily as BLM processes and approves fossil fuel projects. The plan amendment should contemplate appropriate solar energy zones like those adjacent to or overlaying existing disturbances at power plants, coal mines, and oil and gas facilities.

  • Fritzi Cohen says:

    the BLM Portal makes it very difficult, I could not fill out my name etc.
    I had put my comment in the portal, but there was no way to send it.

    • Katie Pellicore says:

      The BLM definitely makes it difficult. If you put your comment in the first page and then click “next” there is a form to put your name and other contact info in. Thanks for taking action!

  • Ella J Fenoglio says:

    Please provide a public comment when the virus quarantine is lifted to allow input from all citizens and interested person, especially the Navajo and other Native American communities.

    Please allow no more oil and gas permits in this sacred area. If this beloved area is harmed environmentally, we can not recover the treasure to its perfect condition.

    Thank you for granting my requests,

  • John Edens says:

    The BLM portal wants a Chapter Reference and a Section Reference. I have no idea what they are and I do not know how to find out. Can you provide some help?

    • Katie Pellicore says:

      Hi John! You don’t need the chapter or section references when filling out the form- you can leave them blank.

  • Stan Serafin says:

    Please leave Chaco Canyon for our next generations!

    • Katie Pellicore says:

      We agree! Make sure you take action on the BLM page and tell them – they can’t see your comments here. Thanks for the support!

  • Liesl Dees says:

    Thanks for making it as easy as you could for us. The talking points made writing this in my own words easy and, while the site was a little cumbersome, I followed your directions and had no problems submitting.

  • Meg says:

    Thanks a lot for carefully explaining how to do this. And thanks for the talking points. I’ve submitted a comment by following your instructions. I sure see why people had trouble with BLM’s site. Thanks again.

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