Impacts of Fracking on Tribal Communities in New Mexico
Who We Are
The Chaco Region of Northwest New Mexico has been home to the rich cultures of many Indigenous Nations for thousands of years. Unfortunately, oil and gas extraction in this region has grown to pose a significant threat to these Indigenous communities. It is now the single largest source of air pollution in the state, resulting in negative health impacts in these communities.
As a group of environmental science students at UCLA, we think it is important to investigate oil and gas extraction in this region given the danger it poses to the health of tribal communities. We will be partnering with WildEarth Guardians, an environmental non-profit group dedicated to protecting and restoring the health of the American West, to aid in this investigation. A significant part of our investigation will involve traveling to New Mexico to build authentic relationships with local communities and learn about the problems they face first-hand.
Source: Molly Schaner
Indigenous nations are disproportionately affected by oil and gas extraction. Oil and gas drilling has the potential to release massive amounts of toxic air pollution, resulting in health impacts such as asthma, heart disease, and cancer. For years, these communities have protested against the rampant expansion of drilling on their ancestral lands. The expansion has been in close proximity to sensitive areas of their communities, including schools, and residential areas. In addition to health problems, the drilling also poses significant threats to historic and cultural resources.
Source: Frack Off Chaco
However, the impact of these protests is limited due to the lack of available data to back up claims of harm. Current databases of permits, spills or releases, enforcement actions, and any other information may contain conflicting information, values that are hard to interpret, or may be missing information entirely. Furthermore, this information is often inaccessible to the individuals who need it most. In some cases, the regulatory system’s complexity may even be allowing oil and gas companies to release air pollution prior to obtaining the required permits.
Source: cc Andrew Kearns
Our team has two goals. The first is to determine if oil and gas operations are violating pollution regulations, including by operating before they have received required permits under the federal Clean Air Act that are designed to reduce pollution impacts. The second is to determine the extent to which tribal communities are being-unjustly affected by these oil and gas operations.
Our solution is to simplify complex regulatory and health information into an accessible database. This can be used to expose federal regulatory violations and to determine the extent of emission impacts on Indigenous communities.
In order to accomplish these goals, we plan to travel to New Mexico to meet and form relationships with community leaders, residents, and local non-profit environmental organizations that will help us assess impacts on the ground, evaluate the accuracy of information we have collected against conditions in the field, and deliver the results of our research to the people directly impacted by the problem.
Source: cc Andrew Kearns
We Can't Do This Alone
Your donation will support our group’s travel to New Mexico to meet with local indigenous communities and partner advocacy groups. We will spend 5 days speaking with local residents to understand what is actually happening in the Greater Chaco Region. You can have a direct impact on the lives of these individuals by help funding our research.
Even the smallest donation can have a big impact -- impacts that can change US legislation and address environmental justice issues on a national scale.