As the United States suffers from an unprecedented shortage of natural gas, the Biden Administration has proposed yet another ban on drilling in the oil-rich state of New Mexico, CNN reports.
On November 15th, Biden announced a proposal for a 20-year ban on oil and gas drilling in Chaco Canyon, located in northwest New Mexico. The justification for the ban is the proximity to the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; as such, the proposal would see a halt to all oil and gas drilling on federal lands within 10 miles of the park. The ban would be carried out by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior (DOI).
“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,” said DOI Secretary Deb Haaland 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.”
On the same day he announced the ban, Biden hosted a summit of Native American tribal leaders at the White House.
“These efforts, to use the word my dad would use so much, is a matter of dignity,” Biden said from the White House. “That’s the foundation of our nation to nation partnership.” Biden also claimed that his administration would work to “comprehensively incorporate tribal ecological knowledge” into future efforts to fight so-called “global warming.”
Similar bans have already been enacted in the area at the statewide level, with the State of New Mexico Land Office implementing a ban on any new state mineral leases within 10 miles of the park. The incoming federal ban will not apply to any privately-owned land within the 10-mile radius, as well as to any tribal land.
“Today’s announcement has been years in the making,” BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning said in a statement. “We look forward to kicking off a broader regional conversation with the many people who care deeply about the Greater Chaco landscape on how we can best manage the cultural and natural values unique to this special place.” Stone-Manning is a former eco-terrorist with a history of violence against lumberjacks, including the deadly tactic known as “tree-spiking.”
Last week, Biden announced that his administration would take the unprecedented step of tapping into the United States’ strategic oil reserves, in response to rising gas prices. The move will see the release of 50 million barrels of oil, which Biden claimed will help to reduce the historically high gas prices across the nation as the winter season fast approaches.