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More than 165,000 Deliver A Message to New Mexico Politicians: Stop Fracking in the Greater Chaco

Groups send overwhelming message of public support for moratorium on drilling

Additional Contacts:
Rebecca Sobel, rsobel@wildearthguardians.org, 505-216-6826
Josh Nelson, jnelson@credoaction.com, 202-550-6175
Genie Stevens, genie@theglobalwarmingexpress.org, 505-660-2157


Albuquerque, NM— Eleven groups—WildEarth Guardians, CREDO Action, Environment New Mexico, Food & Water Watch, Native Voice Network, Earthworks, New Mexico MoveOn, Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club, ForceChange.com, and Western Environmental Law Center—joined forces today to collaboratively deliver anti-fracking petitions to U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, calling for an immediate end to fracking of the Mancos shale in Northwestern New Mexico’s Greater Chaco area.
 
The court ruled on Friday that the Bureau of Land Management is allowed to continue to grant hundreds or even thousands of new permits to drill and frack the area, despite the agency’s lack of environmental review or a comprehensive plan for fracking in the area.  While current hopes for a respite from a fracking boom plaguing Navajo and public lands in New Mexico’s Greater Chaco area were thwarted, New Mexico’s political leaders can still protect the public interest.
 
Kids from The Global Warming Express hauled reams of paper into Congressional offices in Santa Fe and Albuquerque containing petition signatures totalling thousands of pages of support. Representatives from groups also hand delivered petitions to the three congressional offices in Washington D.C.

“We hope Senators Udall and Heinrich and Congressman Lujan will heed the call of more than 165,000 citizens pleading for sensible management of our public lands and stop allowing BLM to frack without a plan,” said Rebecca Sobel from WildEarth Guardians. “The court may have bowed to oil and gas industry profits and allowed BLM to continue to run roughshod over Greater Chaco without a plan, but our political leaders can still protect the public interest by calling for an end to this fracking free-for-all.”

One way citizens expressed opposition to fracking near Chaco is through a variety of petitions organized by 11 groups. Today, representatives from those groups delivered these petitions collectively to the offices of Senators Udall and Heinrich, and Congressman Lujan in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Farmington, New Mexico.  Tomorrow, groups will deliver the same petitions to the politicians’ offices in Washington, D.C.

More than 130,000 of the signatures were collected by CREDO Action. “Fracking is an irredeemably toxic practice that shouldn’t be allowed to take place anywhere,” said Zack Malitz, campaign manager at CREDO Action. “Senators Udall and Heinrich and Congressman Lujan must raise their voices against the expansion of dangerous drilling and fracking near Chaco,” Malitz added.

“We have talked to tens of thousands of New Mexicans face-to-face about keeping fracking away from Chaco Canyon,” said Sanders Moore, Director of Environment New Mexico. “Consistently, people expressed disbelief that anyone would attempt to frack on the doorstep of one of our national parks. New Mexicans from all corners of the state want to protect this World Heritage Site.”
 
The effects of this new fracking boom are already being felt.  Dangerously congested truck traffic, damaged roads, flares, and especially the loud noise and toxic odors of drilling and fracking are already a part of local communities. Fracking uses chemicals known to cause long-term harm to organs and body systems, including impacts to skin, eyes, sensory organs, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, and the liver. One of the more recent fracking wells in the region is across the street from Lybrook Elementary School.
 
Kids sang representatives a song as a call-to-action (attached below).

The Greater Chaco region is one of America’s most important landscapes because of its unique environmental and cultural settings. It is home to ancestral and contemporary Native American tribes, including the Navajo, or Diné, that rely on the land to sustain their livelihoods and for traditional ceremonial practices. While the ancient Chacoan sites within Chaco Culture National Historical Park remain protected, there are numerous Great Houses and cultural sites outside of the Park’s boundaries and hundreds of miles of ancient ceremonial roads, that have already been impacted by fracking.
 
Since January 1, 2014, BLM has approved over 260 permits to drill in the Mancos Shale, and local community members are watching these permits develop into fracking pads almost weekly, as drilling, fracking, and flaring are already occurring, with over 100 wells having already been drilled.
 
A copy of Friday's decision is available here.

A copy of the Plaintiff’s May 11, 2015 memorandum in support of its motion for preliminary injunction is available here.

 
 Additional Statements:
 
"Drilling and fracking in Greater Chaco is an affront to the Native Americans who hold these lands sacred. Fracking is simply too unsafe to pursue since we now know it contributes to climate change and causes water and air pollution.”
Eleanor Bravo, Southwest Organizer, Food & Water Watch
Ebravo@fwwatch.org, 505- 633-7366


"We are dismayed by Friday's decision from Judge Browning because full-scale, unregulated oil and gas development continues to impose devastating impacts on human, cultural, and environmental resources on Dinétah (Navajo homelands) and surrounding areas." 
Colleen Cooley, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment
ccooley22@gmail.com, 928-637-3221


“These petitions represent the opinions of hundreds of thousands of people who believe the Greater Chaco region is worth much more than just the oil and gas beneath it. People’s health and heritage are at stake, and we must act together to stop the climate and environmental effects of blind drilling in this sacred area.”
Kyle Tisdel, Climate & Energy Program Director, Western Environmental Law Center
tisdel@westernlaw.org, 515-613-8050


"BLM's decision to fast-track fracking near Chaco Canyon over massive public objection shows they're putting oil and gas industry profits ahead of the public interest. By using outdated planning documents and ignoring many in the region who want no drilling near Chaco, BLM tells us that it is not interested in meaningful consultation with local people."
Pete Dronkers, Southwest Circuit Rider, Earthworks
pdronkers@earthworksaction.org, 970-259-3353 x3
 

"Fracking and chemical emissions are exacting a huge toll on the health of the over 8 million residents who live near oil and gas operations. Fracking must be addressed as a health crisis that is poisoning and degrading the water, air, health and lives of people across this country."
Teresa Seamster, Rio Grande Chapter of Sierra Club
tc.seamster@gmail.com, 505-466-8964


"The Chaco Canyon area contains many sites that remain sacred to the Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo peoples. Chaco Canyon has been called 'The American Cradle of Civilization' and consists of a series of villages interlinked by perfectly straight roadways. Not all of the Chaco Canyon buildings lie within the National Park. Around 35 of the Great Houses of the Pueblo people are located outside of the park and are in even more danger than the buildings inside it. These magnificent remnants of an ancient Native American culture could be lost forever if the land around them is opened up for fracking and oil drilling."
Nick, ForceChange, organize@forcechange.com  


“We Kids at the Global Warming Express strongly urge all grownups to change their way of powering the world.
We need a clean and green future.
WE NEED A FUTURE, period.
Please stop fracking and oil and coal extraction and burning RIGHT NOW!!!”

The Global Warming Express Kids Board Statement

The Global Warming Express song lyrics:

our earth in in the
clutches of fossil fuels
like trusting a stranger
with precious jewels
 
it’s icky and sticky
you chose it too quickly
 
this problem can be solved
our brains are very much evolved
we need to stop the migration
flying closer to annihilation
 
it’s icky and sticky
we’re not just being picky
 
I’d rather see a windmill on a hill
than oil bing drilled
a meadow ruined by oil pumps
a coal mine where a mountain should be
fracking for natural gas
it sickens me!
 
it’s icky and sticky
the fumes they make are sickly
 
I walk down the street
and there’s litter at my feet
I walk downtown
and there’s litter on the ground
 
it’s icky and sticky
solar and wind can save us!
 
the sun is radiant
like a blooming flower
the wind is shy
but whispers of its power
solar will last till the sun burns out
that’s a problem we haven’t thought about
 
it’s icky and sticky
solar and wind with save us
take the bus
bike around or
walk to town!


 

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