"New Mexico lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a bill to protect federal lands around the Chaco Canyon from drilling and mining, attempting to permanently shield the Native American cultural site from recurring attempts at oil and gas leasing.
U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland introduced the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act, which would bar any future leasing or development of minerals owned by the U.S. government located within a 10-mile protected radius of the area.
The federal Bureau of Land Management had deferred a planned lease sale of around 1,500 acres within 10 miles of the park in February after strong public opposition. It was the third attempt by the administration to offer those lands for leasing. "