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U.S House Natural Resources Committee Passes Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act
All Pueblo Council of Governors legislative efforts to permanently protect the Greater Chaco Region gaining momentum
Albuquerque, New Mexico (July 19th 2019) – This week H.R 2181 The Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act passed the House Natural Resources Committee without amendment and is now headed to the House floor.
“The All Pueblo Council of Governors expresses our gratitude for the collective efforts our 20 member Pueblos, the Navajo Nation, the New Mexico State Land Office, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the entirety of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation, and countless other advocates in ongoing support for the protection of the Greater Chaco landscape. The strength of coordinated local governmental and community efforts is reflected in the ongoing momentum in protecting the Greater Chaco Region at the highest legislative level.” –APCG Chairman E. Paul Torres
Assistant Speaker Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M) is leading the effort to withdraw federal land around the Chaco Cultural Heritage National Historic Park from future oil and gas leasing in protection of sacred sites and cultural resources vital to the identity of Pueblo nations now and into the future. The bill is co-sponsored by Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).
“The All Pueblo Council of Governors would also like to express a special appreciation of Representative Debra Haaland for her advocacy and our most recent co-sponsor on the bill Representative Tom Cole. We urge Congress to follow our delegation’s and co-sponsors lead and expediently pass this legislation for the benefit of our Pueblo Nations and all who come to Chaco to learn from our past” – APCG Vice-Chairman and Governor Michael Chavarria of Santa Clara Pueblo
The passage of the bill in committee comes at the heels of a string of good news for the Greater Chaco Region. In May, U.S Department of Interior Secretary Bernhardt visited Chaco Canyon with tribal leaders from All Pueblo Council of Governors and Navajo Nation to announce a one-year moratorium on future oil and gas leases in the withdrawal area. In June, at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing, the Bureau of Land Management reversed their legislative stance to a position of “no objection” to the proposed withdrawal. Shortly after, the House passed their DOI, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill for FY20 including an amendment sponsored by Rep. Lujan, successfully codifying the pause on fracking in the Greater Chaco Region.
“Critically, this legislation also sends a clear message that we will not allow the destruction of sacred lands by companies seeking to prohibit. I will continue to fight to protect this world-renowned site that holds significant cultural value to New Mexicans, Tribal communities, and the Pueblos. I implore the House to pass this bill so future generations may enjoy Chaco Canyon.” –Assistant Speaker Representative Ben Ray Lujan
We are appreciative of continued initiatives and reaffirm that permanent protection of this region is of the highest priority for our Pueblo Nations. We look forward to House passage, and the Senate following suit shortly thereafter.