Biden administration to study oil and gas drilling policy in Chaco Canyon area

By Ron Dungan
Published: Monday, November 15, 2021 - 5:23pm
Updated: Tuesday, November 16, 2021 - 8:28am

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Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Ron Dungan/KJZZ
Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which preserves ancient buildings constructed by Pueblo tribes, is protected from oil and gas drilling.

When President Biden named Deb Haaland as his secretary of Interior, conservationists wondered if she might take a close look at oil and gas drilling in northwest New Mexico.

After months of study, the administration recently announced new policies on drilling in the region.

Chaco Canyon National Historical Park was set aside to preserve ancient Pueblo structures and artifacts.

The area is rich in oil and natural gas, and although the park is off limits to extraction, lands outside of it are not.

Conservationists say that tribal communities have borne the brunt of pollution from energy development.

The Bureau of Land Management will consider a 20-year withdrawal of drilling on federal lands within a 10-mile radius around Chaco.

The action will not affect existing leases or new ones on private, state or tribal lands.

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