The Biden administration on Monday proposed a 20-year ban on oil and gas drilling in and around Chaco Canyon, a sacred tribal site in what is now northwestern New Mexico. The plan, announced at the opening of the White House Tribal Nations Summit, would remove land within 10 miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park from federal leasing for at least the next two years as an environmental study and stakeholder engagement take place. The site, once a home and trading hub for the Ancestral Puebloan civilization, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important cultural sites on U.S. public lands. Plunder of artifacts from the site led to the passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906 and tribes have long-opposed drilling in the area.
“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 Haaland, citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, said at the event. “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.” (AP, Washington Post $, Reuters, E&E $, Wall Street Journal $, Axios, Grist, New York Times $, The Hill, Politico Pro $, Washington Examiner)