Biden to propose 20-year new drilling ban near sacred tribal site in New Mexico

The Biden administration on Monday announced that it will propose a 20-year ban on new mining and oil and gas drilling in the area surrounding Chaco Canyon — a New Mexico site with significance to Native American tribes. 

The Interior Department said Monday that it will propose making lands surrounding Chaco Canyon, which itself is already protected as a National Historical Park, ineligible for new oil and gas leasing or new mining claims. 

The move, which the administration described as creating a 10-mile buffer around the park, will not impact existing leases and claims. 

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Instead, the Bureau of Land Management will seek to make sure that development that occurs through these allowances does so in manners that “avoid or minimize” impacts to protected areas. 

“Chaco Canyon is a sacred place that holds deep meaning for the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors lived, worked, and thrived in that high desert community,” Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandInterior recommends imposing higher costs for public lands drilling Overnight Energy & Environment — White House announces new climate office Biden administration approves second offshore wind project off Rhode Island MORE said in a statement. 

“Now is the time to consider more enduring protections for the living landscape that is Chaco, so that we can pass on this rich cultural legacy to future generations. I value and appreciate the many Tribal leaders, elected officials, and stakeholders who have persisted in their work to conserve this special area,” she added. 

The announcement comes as the White House gears up for a Monday summit with tribes.

A fact sheet previewing this event noted that area Pueblos and other tribes have expressed concerns about oil and gas development in particular threatening sacred and cultural sites over the course of the last decade.