Policy Update May 10, 2019

Position on S. 1079, Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act

NPCA submitted the following position to members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining ahead of a hearing scheduled for May 14, 2019.

NPCA strongly supports S. 1079, Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park is a unique landscape that tells the story of one of North America’s oldest and most sophisticated cultures, has an internationally renowned dark sky, and was recognized as a world-class cultural landscape with its designation as a World Heritage Site in 1987. The landscape is sacred ancestral homeland to Pueblo Tribes and is rich in cultural and archeological sites, some still unknown and undiscovered. The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act would withdraw the lands around the historical park, within an approximate ten-mile Protection Zone, from further oil and gas development by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Withdrawal of over 316,000 acres of oil, natural gas, coal and other minerals owned by the federal government within the proposed Chaco Protection Zone will preserve scared sites of great significance to human history, help address some of the public health concerns of neighboring communities and tribes, and ensure the park’s exceptional resources are protected.

Additionally, the legislation recognizes the need for additional studies and protective measures to address health, safety and environmental concerns, while calling for an end to the oil and gas industry’s land grab by returning non-producing lands back to the public where they belong. We should not allow our cultural legacy to become an island in a sea of oil and gas development, development whose negative impacts disproportionately impact communities in northern New Mexico.