A New Day at IPANM

Chaco Canyon “Buffer Zone” Bill Passes House Despite Republican Opposition


IPANM, C-SPAN & Associated Press (Oct. 31, 2019) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation (H.R. 2181) prohibiting drilling on the checkerboard of federal land that borders Chaco Canyon Historic Park in Northwest New Mexico. The measure also calls for terminating existing non-producing leases in the area and suggests more studies and protective measures be taken to address health, safety and environmental effects on communities and tribal interests. The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), calls for a 10-mile setback zone that would ban oil and gas drilling over approximately 300,000 acres of federal land, including land that already has been leased by the federal government.

During debate on H.R. 2181 on the U.S. House floor Wednesday, Republicans attempted to stop the bill citing arguments that New Mexico would suffer severe economic harm with the loss of revenue due to a drilling ban buffer zone around Chaco Canyon. Texas Congressman Jodey Arrington (R-TX) also cited the loss of revenue for Navajo allottees, who hold mineral rights in portions of the land that would be blocked from drilling by the legislation. Arrington’s Motion to Recommit H.R. 2181 failed on a mostly partyline vote 199-222.

US House OKs protections near historical park in New Mexico
Republican efforts to stop H.R. 2181 come up short
IPANM has submitted formal comments in opposition of H.R. 2181

Comments from Wednesday’s House Debate: