Originally published Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 09:40a.m.

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer extended their appreciation to U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) for securing a one-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

The park is approximately 41-miles northeast of Crownpoint, New Mexico. The moratorium was included as an amendment in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations package that passed June 25. 

Luján’s office said the amendment is a critical move toward securing a permanent ban on oil and gas drilling in the Greater Chaco Region.

“On behalf of the Navajo people, Vice President Lizer and I thank Assistant Speaker Luján for his support, leadership, and partnership with the Navajo people to protect our beautiful and sacred lands. Halting leases for one year is a step in the right direction,” Nez said.  

On June 5, Vice President Lizer testified before the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands in support of H.R. 2181: the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act of 2019, sponsored by Congressman Luján, which seeks a permanent ban on oil and gas leasing within a 10-mile radius of the Chaco landscape. 

The amendment approved by the House June 25 also prohibits federal funding to be used for future mineral development on federal lands near the Chaco Cultural National Historic Park for one year, but does not affect the mineral rights of any tribal member or tribe on trust or allotted land. 

“The Greater Chaco Region is a living landscape, meant to be accessible for tribal communities to support the continuance of cultural practices vital to our present identity. The bill protects the land, structures, and environment from any unanticipated adverse effects associated with unchecked oil and gas development in the region,” Lizer said. 

The Nez-Lizer Administration thanked Luján, the House of Representatives and others who played a role in supporting the amendment. Nez and Lizer also requested the support of the U.S. Senate and Trump Administration for the amendment.

Information provided by the Office of the President and Vice President

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