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house Bill H.R. 2181

Should Mining & Gas Development be Prohibited Within 10 Miles of Chaco Culture National Historical Park?

Argument in favor

The Chaco Culture National Historical Park and its surrounding areas are an important cultural and historical site that requires preservation. Ensuring that the park’s surrounding areas are protected from development is an important means of protecting this important land and its environment.

jimK's Opinion
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10/31/2019
Oil and gas mining should be banned period. We need to get serious about getting away from carbon combustion fuels. There is no need to start such projects that could even possibly damage national park lands or historical archeological heritage sites. There is no need to invest in further developing fossil fuel mining or extraction.
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Marcia's Opinion
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10/31/2019
Keep greedy hands away from our treasures. Business has generally not been a good steward of the earth. Why trust it now?
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10/31/2019
Protect our national park, work on new energy development that fit today’s world.
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Argument opposed

This bill would hurt New Mexico’s economy by reducing future oil and gas revenues, which are important sources of funding for future public investments. It would also jeopardize Indian allottees’ economic futures, as it could affect their allottee mineral rights, which are an important income stream for families that rely on this money to make ends meet.

Dara's Opinion
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10/31/2019
Do we have brain dead citizens that would allow such sacrilege to sacred places? Absolutely NO we should not be drilling anywhere near parks or natural wonders.
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David's Opinion
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10/31/2019
Allow a buffer area that is reasonable. Maybe a mile or two.
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Rob's Opinion
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10/31/2019
Because mining companies have proven over and over again that they don't care if they destroy local environments.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
  • The house Passed October 30th, 2019
    Roll Call Vote 245 Yea / 174 Nay
      house Committees
      National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
      Committee on Natural Resources
      Energy and Mineral Resources
    IntroducedApril 9th, 2019

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What is House Bill H.R. 2181?

This bill — the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019 — would withdraw federal land within a 10-mile buffer of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico from entry under hardrock mining laws and from mineral and geothermal leasing activities, subject to valid existing rights. It would also terminate any existing leasing agreements in the withdrawal area that are not producing by the end of their initial terms. 

Impact

New Mexico; Chaco Culture National Historical Park; and mining, mineral, and geothermal development near Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2181

$2.00 Million
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $2 million over the 2019-2024 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced this bill to withdraw the federal lands around Chaco Canyon from further mineral development

“This effort will preserve the greater Chaco region for generations to come. Chaco Canyon is sacred land that has been home to some of the most resilient communities in history, and it is our responsibility to protect against efforts that would destroy the legacy of the Chacoan people and other indigenous communities or harm these beautiful public lands. We must do everything possible to defend the greater Chaco area by halting future oil and gas development in the area, and I’m proud to support legislation that will further address the environmental, health, economic, and cultural needs of this region.”

After this bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Luján said

“Oil and gas drilling in the Greater Chaco region would destroy that beautiful and sacred landscape and would permanently impact New Mexicans’ health and quality of life. Passing my legislation to protect Chaco through the Natural Resources Committee today creates critical momentum to permanently ban oil and gas drilling. 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.” 

Original cosponsor Rep. Deb Haaland (D-AZ), Chair of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, adds:

“It’s important that we protect Chaco Canyon, both because it is a sacred place that should be valued the same way we value other sacred places, but also because public lands must be protected. However, time and again this special place has been put up to be exploited by big oil companies. By introducing these protections we’re going beyond protecting a beautiful piece of New Mexico, we’re recognizing the significance Chaco holds for the Native American community and to all New Mexicans. By keeping Chaco from being destroyed by the fossil fuel industry, future generations will have access to this special place.”

The All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG) supports this bill. Its Chairman, E. Paul Torres, says

“Thank you Senator Udall and Senator Heinrich, for your leadership, and your unceasing commitment to support the efforts of our tribal nations in the preservation of the Greater Chaco Region. This land is a part of our histories as tribal nations, and holds life-affirming resources that many of our Pueblos still remember and use, as a vital part of our present identity through story, song, prayer, and pilgrimage. This landscape is a part of our past, present, and our future. Once these areas are developed, they are gone forever. We hope the reintroduction of this bill sends a strong message to Washington - that it must be understood that we will do all we can to take these resources our Creator gifted us and hand them to our children and our generations to come. We thank you Senators, the Navajo Nation, and the New Mexico State Land Office for our unified support in this movement to protect Greater Chaco.”

The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and 45 other organizations and tribes wrote a joint letter in support of this bill in June 2019. Their letter, addressed to the New Mexico Congressional delegation, discussed the Chaco Canyon’s important cultural, historical, and archaeological resources and thanked the delegation for its efforts to protect it: 

“Chaco Canyon and the surrounding landscape hold remarkable examples of ceremonial buildings, distinctive great houses, and an elaborate network of engineered roads that link Chaco Canyon with outlying sites. This landscape was designated a World Heritage Site in 1987 for preserving outstanding elements of Chacoan culture, which dominated the region from the mid-9th to early 13th centuries. Energy development associated with the Mancos-Gallup Shale formation in northwest New Mexico has increasingly threatened cultural resources and the broader landscape affiliated with Chaco. Recognizing this threat, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Greater Chaco Landscape among America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2011. In September 2017, Archaeology Southwest released a new report summarizing recent research by the archaeological and academic communities on the Greater Chaco Landscape that underscores the critical need to enhance protections for the area. Thank you for introducing the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act and for your continued leadership in protecting this important cultural landscape.”

In their dissenting views to this bill’s committee report, House Natural Resources Committee Republicans characterized this bill as an example of “Committee Democrats’ pattern of partisan intransigence.” They argued that this bill would hurt New Mexico’s economy by eliminating key revenue sources for future public investments, undermine responsible energy development, and jeopardize Indian allottees’ futures: 

“This [bill] would have a deeply negative long-term economic impacts on the State of New Mexico, eliminate key revenue sources for future public investments, and undermine a range of economic activities associated with responsible energy development. In fiscal year 2013 the combined revenues from oil and gas for the four counties that are near the proposed moratorium area was $198.2 million. This permanent ban would also jeopardize the financial future of thousands of Indian allottees by making it virtually impossible for them to develop the energy resources they own. The bill claims not to affect allottee mineral rights, but the reality is that many allottee lands are surrounded by federal lands that would be withdrawn by this legislation. This will create significant access and extraction complications for the Indian allottees along with any companies they partner with and will lead to a de facto extraction ban on their lands. At the June 5, 2019, hearing on H.R. 2181, the Natural Resources Committee heard testimony from Debora Hesuse, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, Nageezi chapter, and an Indian allottee who owns mineral resources in the proposed area. Ms. Hesuse testified that [this bill] would ‘put many of our mineral rights off limits and stop a much-needed source of income to feed, shelter, clothe and protect our families.’ Ms. Hesuse also submitted for the record a petition signed by 131 Navajo allot[t]ees opposing this legislation, as well as two resolutions from the Huerfano and Nageezi Navajo chapters, which are closest to this area, expressing support for the Navajo allotment landowners and recognizing their opposition to this bill.”

Committee Republicans also objected to Committee Democrats’ refusal to accept their amendments to this bill

“During markup of H.R. 2181, several amendments offered by Republicans seeking to address flaws in the bill were rejected on largely party line votes. Among these was an amendment  offered by Congressman Paul Gosar that would have delayed implementation of this legislation until the Department of the Interior is able to properly confirm that this withdrawal will not adversely affect mineral rights held by Native Americans in the area. Also offered at the markup was an amendment from Congresswoman Liz Cheney that would have simply provided recognition for the Indian allottee opposition to the bill by adding one line to the bill's findings section. These amendments were rejected by Committee Democrats, and the legislation advanced without a single Republican vote.”

This legislation passed the House Natural Resources Committee by a 19-14 party-line vote with the support of 10 bipartisan House cosponsors, including nine Democrats and one Republican. Its Senate companion is sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) with the support of one Senate cosponsor, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

A range of Native American, environmental advocacy, and cultural preservation groups support this bill. They include the Navajo Nation (although the Huerfano and Nageezi Navajo chapters oppose this bill), All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG), New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, Southwest Native Cultures, Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), National Trust for Historic Preservation, Conservation Lands Foundation, and others support this bill. 


Of NoteChaco Culture National Historical Park is a national park and World Heritage Site (WHS) that was the center of ancestral Puebloan culture. It’s known for its still-standing multi-story buildings, which are relics of a culture that spread throughout and dominated the Four Corners area from the ninth through eleventh centuries. 

Today, many modern-day pueblos and tribes in the Four Corners area (the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico) claim cultural affiliation with and descent from the Chacoan people. Consequently, the Chaco Canyon is sacred to Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and other Pueblo Indians.

Archaeological research in Chaco has yielded over 1.5 million documents and archival documents to date. It’s estimated that there are still over 5,000 artifacts in the greater Chaco region, as well as potentially thousands more that have yet to be identified or disclosed. Because of this, pueblos and tribes in New Mexico and Arizona have been raising concerns about oil and gas drilling encroaching ever-closer to Chaco Canyon for at least the last decade.

Chaco Canyon, the site of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, is in the San Juan Basin. This basin has been one of the United States’ most productive natural gas basis for decades; and there may also be oil resources near the peak. Approximately 90% of the basin’s federal lands have been leased out by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). These include several areas that overlap with Chacoan roads, villages, and other highly sensitive resources. To date, however, the lands immediately surrounding Chaco Canyon haven’t been intensively leased and drilled — therefore, they’re some of the last undeveloped lands in the San Juan Basin. 

In 2018, the Trump administration proposed to issue new oil and gas leases in the landscape around Chaco Canyon — including some that are very close to an important archaeological site that’s part of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park’s WHS designation. This recommendation was being made over the objection of the All Pueblo Council of Governors (APCG), which represents the nineteen pueblos in New Mexico, and one pueblo in Texas. Accordingly, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) filed a Notice of Competitive Oil and Gas Internet-Based Lease Sale for 25 parcels of land in New Mexico, with a March 8, 2018 sale date.

In response to the administration’s proposal and the March 8 lease sale, the APCG lodged a formal protest on January 4, 2018. The APCG noted that the areas proposed for development contain historic pueblo properties and traditional cultural properties, and might be eligible under federal criteria for listing as historic properties on the National Register of Historic Places. It also argued that the BLM’s sale and issuance of oil and gas leases on the lands in question violates the National Historic Preservation Act due to failure to analyze and identify the pueblos’ respective historic properties and traditional cultural properties potentially in the affected areas.

APCG has also passed four resolutions in recent years calling on BLM to stop issuing new oil and gas leases and permits near Chaco Canyon until new protections can be adopted through the ongoing land use planning process that BLM is jointly leading with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). This request has been echoed by the Navajo Nation and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), as well as Sens. Udall and Heinrich and Rep. Luján.

Early this year, in June 2019, the House imposed a one-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park when it passed an amendment to that effect that Rep. Luján offered to the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations package. Rep Luján’s office called the one-year moratorium “an environmental victory for the greater Chaco region” and “a major step toward a permanent ban” to protect the area’s land in perpetuity.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / powerofforever)

AKA

Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019

Official Title

To provide for the withdrawal and protection of certain Federal land in the State of New Mexico.

    Oil and gas mining should be banned period. We need to get serious about getting away from carbon combustion fuels. There is no need to start such projects that could even possibly damage national park lands or historical archeological heritage sites. There is no need to invest in further developing fossil fuel mining or extraction.
    Like (57)
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    Do we have brain dead citizens that would allow such sacrilege to sacred places? Absolutely NO we should not be drilling anywhere near parks or natural wonders.
    Like (10)
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    Keep greedy hands away from our treasures. Business has generally not been a good steward of the earth. Why trust it now?
    Like (32)
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    Protect our national park, work on new energy development that fit today’s world.
    Like (26)
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    It’s a tiny area to protect a important cultural treasure and it’s environ. Stop being so damn greedy. This country is huge. You don’t have to cover every km2 with oil and gas derricks. BACK OFF.
    Like (17)
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    This "no limits" approach to mining, oil and gas development and more has to stop. We must respect our country's national and cultural monuments as well as wildlife preserves.
    Like (15)
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    Until mining and gas are made financially culpable for the long term impacts they have on communities, they should be banned all together. Tax payers pay out billions every year in mitigation for the damages done by Big Energy. And billions more of our tax dollars go towards subsidies for an industry that makes trillions in profits. Why?
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    Protect our national parks!
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    Support HR 2181 Ben Lujan No development 10,000 miles away! STOP development all together is my preference! Save Chaco Culture National Historical Park for generations to appreciate! Sacred Ground should be protected. Fossil Fuels need to stay in the ground!
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    ALL national parks MUST be protected. This president, administration and Moscow Mitch are a disaster.
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    We don’t want to be like Syria and destroy all our ancient cultural artifacts.
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    Impeach! White House lawyer moved transcript of trump call to classified server after Ukraine adviser raised alarms. He has politicized our national security and has chosen Putin and other dictators over our own congress and security agencies. “I stated to Amb. Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push,” Vindman adds. Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council is testifying that trump demanded that a foreign government investigate an American citizen in exchange for Congresses approved aide. Just reached a $984 billion deficit while he lines his pockets with our tax dollars and foreign money at his resorts. $400 million in aide money was withheld from Ukraine back in August and Ukrainian leaders were told it was not red tape, that they needed to talk to Chief of Staff Mulvaney to resolve it and make a CNN statement about Biden in order to receive said aide. Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, is running a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvents U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President trump. Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas. Look them up. North Korea just tested a submarine launched missile. Deserted our Kurdish allies who have been fighting ISIS with us and now are being slaughtered. All because he has a tower in Istanbul. “The Americans betrayed us. We do not trust them anymore,” she added. These used to be our Kurdish allies that stood against ISIS. He is refusing to comply with the law. He is using the power of the presidency to withhold aide to one of the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet in exchange for political favors in order to sway the 20/20 election. He is acting like a criminal and threatening the life of the whistleblower. Mr. America first is sending troops to Saudi Arabia in support of a murdering dictator who spends millions at his hotels and resorts. Corey Lewandowski testified to congress that trump ordered him to obstruct justice. He is blocking information that pertains to the safety of our country from reaching congress. He has been threatening NOAA, a federal agency, with punishment if they do not disavow the truth and side with his lies. He invited the Taliban to Camp David the week of 9/11. He is a #PussyAssBitch He’s doctoring weather maps to try and prove he’s not an idiot. He has stayed at trump properties 293 days in 3 years, that’s our tax dollars going directly into his pocket. He took money from military daycares to pay for a wall that won’t work and no one wants. The Vice President and the Attorney General are both spending tax payer dollars on trump hotels, lining his pockets and currying his favor. He has privately instructed aides to skirt laws and regulations to get the wall built faster — and told them he will pardon them if necessary. He is pressuring a government agency to give a contract for his wall to a company whose chief executive is a donor to one of his top GOP allies in Congress. He took hundreds of millions from 127 different projects (FEMA being one of those) for his wall. He thinks nuking a hurricane is an idea. He is host the next G-7 at one of his own resorts. Again our tax dollars paying him directly. He taunted Iran by tweeting a classified image of an Iranian rocket that had exploded, thereby potentially compromising U.S. intelligence capabilities. His own company would save millions from the low interest rates he is demanding. He was going to give you tax cuts through your paychecks but decided not to. This year the richest of us payed less in taxes than the rest of us. He is destroying the economy with HIS trade war. We will soon average a 1.2 trillion deficit. He is repeating NRA talking points on background checks so expect no action taken regardless of the fact there has been 27 arrested over threats to commit mass attacks since El Paso( NOT TOLEDO). He made fun of republicans being afraid of the NRA and then caved after a 30 minute phone conversation with them. He bragged about indefinite child detention because it brings families together. He is refusing flue shots, that protect us all(google influenza pandemic), to immigrant children. He is attacking fellow congresswomen in really disgusting ways and making anti-Semitic remarks about Jews calling them disloyal. He thinks he’s the chosen one based on a conspiracy theory web sight. He has: Obstructed Justice. Is profiting from the Presidency. Colluded - They had a meeting & lied about it. Advocated political & police violence. Abuse of power. Engaging in reckless behavior. Persecuting political opponents. Attacking the free press. Violating immigrants Right to Due Process. Violating campaign finance laws. Racist: Speaks directly to and often tweeting straight from white supremacists. Calls them very fine people. Told fellow congresswomen to go back where they came from. Called them shit hole countries. Called them murderers and rapists. Calls her Pocahontas. Took out full page adds calling for the death of five innocent black kids in New York, 1989. Literally has said in an interview he has Hitlers speeches, My New Order in his nightstand. Our Money: Spent campaign finance money on hush payments to silence a porn star he had an affair with in order to hide it from the voters. Has spent over $100 million of our tax dollars playing golf at his own golf courses. Has never divested from companies and advertises and profits off the White House. Was going to cut Medicaid and Medicare funding to pay for the tax cuts he gave to the rich. Is actively destroying farmers lives with his trade wars that we all know only hurts our pockets not Chinas. Has made the lives of every truck driver across America as well as our own, more dangerous by removing safety regulations that only benefits the pockets of the CEOs of those companies. Has removed any and all protections we had in place from work safety, environment, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and gives that power back to the CEOs, oil companies, men and old white men. Saudi funded lobbyist rented 500 rooms at a trump hotel he never divested from right after he became president. Wonder why? Sexual Predator: Accused by more than 20 women of molestation and rape. Bragged about said molestation on tape. Has cheated on all three wives (see above). Has made sexual remarks on camera about his daughter. Belittles and bully’s women. Not even sure he’s aware he has two daughters. Idiot: Has allowed North Korea to grow there nuclear weapons program. Took the side of Putin over America’s own security agencies on the national stage. Lacks the intelligence and facts needed to communicate on a global level much less national one. Makes policy decisions based on FOX media. Lies when speaks. Doesn’t believe in science and quite often displays his ignorance of it. Russia: Lied about meetings with Russians. Lied about a trump tower Moscow. Personal attorney Michael Cohen (same guy who broke campaign finance laws under trumps direction) had contacts with russian officials. National Security aide Flynn resigned over Russian contacts. Jeff Sessions recused himself because of Russian contacts. Manafort resigned because of Russian contacts. Campaign foreign policy adviser Papadopoulos met with Russians then bragged about it to Australians who then turned that info over to our FBI. Sixteen campaign officials had contacts with Russia and at least nine others new about it. Russian mobster lived in trump tower. trump casino was flagged 106 times for lax money laundering standards and same Russian frequently stayed at trump casino. Has been selling real estate to Russians for years. It really is surprising how many connections to Russians this man has. Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Bill Posey You are my representatives. OLC policy: The indictment or criminal prosecution of a crime sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions. It’s time to do your job. You swore an oath to this country, it’s people and me to uphold the constitution. The president has never upheld that oath. How do you want to be remembered?
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    Allow a buffer area that is reasonable. Maybe a mile or two.
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    We need to move on from fossil fuels.
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    This is a state issue.
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    Yes, please ban permanently all mining and drilling permits within 20 miles of any historic monuments such as the Chaco Cultural
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    Yes. I support this proposal.
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    All could cause the ground to shift, ten miles may not be far enough.
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    Sorry to see that you again have little regard for future generations. Money over everything, eh, Steve?
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    Again, we can’t have people profiting off of our national parks. It is to be preserved and protected.
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