Chaco drilling moratorium included in spending measure

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. land managers would be prohibited from using federal funds to approve oil and gas projects near Chaco Culture National Historical Park for the next year under a measure approved by the U.S. House.

Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico included the language in a spending package that cleared the chamber Tuesday.

The language aims to codify a commitment from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to defer leases within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of the park while regulators prepare a new resource management plan.

Legislation that calls for permanently banning drilling on federal lands within the buffer is pending. It would not affect land owned by the Navajo Nation or individual tribal members.

Tribes and environmentalists have been advocating for more protections, saying the region is full of culturally significant sites.

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