Reducing Oil and Gas Exploitation in the San Juan Basin


New Mexico and Colorado’s San Juan Basin, an energy “sacrifice zone,” faces unprecedented pressure from the oil and gas industry. Already, more than 40,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled in the region and more than 91 percent of the land has been leased to the oil and gas industry by the Bureau of Land Management.

The area hosts the nation’s largest methane hotspot as a result of oil and gas activities, a major threat to the climate. In 2016, the area received an “F” from the American Lung Association for ground-level ozone, or smog pollution, responsible for over 12,000 asthma attacks in New Mexican children each year. More than 1,477 spills in New Mexico related to oil and gas production occurred in 2015 alone – an average of four spills per day. In July 2016, a well pad on Navajo lands exploded and burned for days, killing livestock and forcing local residents to evacuate.

WELC is leading a broad coalition of local, regional, and national groups opposed the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plans to sell nearly 1,000 acres of publicly owned oil and gas mineral rights to the fracking industry in this area. The leases are located near the homes of Navajo residents and within 20 miles of Chaco Canyon National Historical Park.

News & Updates

Photo by Doc Searls.

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