BLM Director gets grilling from Sen. Tom Udall over Chaco drilling

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Plans to expand drilling options for oil and gas resources near Chaco Canyon in Northwest New Mexico have long drawn opposition from local and national environmental and cultural advocates.

Yesterday in the US Senate, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall (Democrat) questioned Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze about the agency’s plan to expand drilling near the historic site and the agency’s policies in general around expanding oil and gas drilling options.

The entire hearing is available online, but you can use this clip to watch the exchange between Udall and BLM:

At the hearing, Udall asked for the Interior Department to “take a personal look at this issue and come to New Mexico to hear the concerns of our constituents.”

In response, Kornze committed to working with Udall to ensure that oil and gas leasing near this iconic site is handled with the utmost consideration of Chaco Canyon’s archaeological value.

“Chaco Canyon is critically important to my state as an incredibly rich cultural destination, as well as a sacred place to the tribes of the southwest,” Udall said. “But as you know, Chaco Canyon is situated right in one of the most productive oil and gas production areas in the country. It appears that many new leases are getting closer to the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, which really concerns me.”