Chaco legislation clears US House committee

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Federal legislation aimed at limiting oil and gas development near a national park in New Mexico held sacred by Native Americans has been endorsed by a key congressional committee.

The House natural resources panel on Wednesday approved the Democrat-sponsored bill. A similar measure is pending in the Senate.

Tribes and environmentalists have been advocating for more protections beyond the boundaries of Chaco Culture National Historical Park, saying the region is full of culturally significant sites.

The legislation would permanently ban drilling on federal land within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of the park.

Most of the land surrounding the park belongs to the Navajo Nation or individual Navajo allotment owners. While top Navajo officials support cultural preservation, they have stopped short of asking for a drilling ban because development in the region nets substantial revenue.

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