Vice President Lizer testifies before Congress in support of Chaco Canyon protection bill

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
202-682-7390

For Immediate Release

Vice President Lizer testifies before Congress in support of Chaco Canyon protection bill

WASHINGTON—Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer testified today 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.

In his testimony, Vice President Lizer underscored that the bill aims to protect the sacred Chaco landscape permanently for future generations. “Aside from Chaco’s contributions to the fields of archeology and history, this place is sacred and deserves permanent protection,” Vice President Lizer said.

He also noted that with any development, especially oil and gas, the risk for disturbances of any structures and artifacts that surround the development is always increased. Oil and gas development activities will also increase the amount of emissions, such as particulate matter, methane, and volatile organic compounds.

“With more than 90 percent of the public lands in Northwest New Mexico already leased for energy development, there should not be a need to lease more federal lands in the areas near the park,” Vice President Lizer said.

On May 28, along with the local tribes, President Jonathan Nez joined Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior David Bernhardt for a visit to the Chaco Culture National Historical Park to discuss protection of the area from natural resource development. Secretary Bernhardt has agreed to hold off on issuing any new leases for natural resource extraction in the area for one year to update its resource management plan. “We applaud the secretary’s decision. However, we also need a more permanent solution provided by H.R. 2181 and S. 1079,” Vice President Lizer stated.

“President Nez and I also want to make clear that we oppose any potential uranium mining in the Chaco area and we want to make sure that it cannot be developed,” Vice President Lizer said.

Uranium mining has been historically detrimental to the Navajo people for many decades due to the extensive health and environmental impacts in many Navajo communities.

“The Navajo Nation wants to make sure that it does not harm any families again. Navajo law also supports a moratorium on uranium mining, processing, and transportation activity on the Navajo Nation,” Vice President Lizer added. “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 also protects the land, structures, and environment from any unanticipated adverse effects associated with unchecked oil and gas development in the region.”

Rep. Ben Ray Luján is the sponsor of the House bill and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., is the sponsor of S. 1079, the Senate companion bill.

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