Justin Wasser, 202.753.7016, firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: Last Thursday, 2 June 2023, New Mexican State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard issued an executive order to ban new leases for oil & gas operations on state trust land within 1-mile of a school or educational institution and to prioritize enforcement on existing operations within the same radius. The action aligns with a body of public health studies that have shown health harms, especially to vulnerable individuals, increasing with proximity to oil and gas extraction. The order is the result of collaboration between the State Land Office and the Center for Biological Diversity, Citizens Caring for the Future and community members in Eastern Navajo Agency.
Statement by Earthworks Four Corner’s Field Advocate Kendra Pinto:
“A 1-mile protective buffer on state land for children is a move toward environmental justice from the harms of oil & gas extraction placed next to schools and daycares — something all too common in the Four Corners region and within Indigenous communities, more so than anywhere else in New Mexico.
“Protective buffers from oil & gas harms should not, however, be limited only to children. Across NM and the Four Corners region, oil & gas operations stand next to homes and places where people gather with their loved ones each and every day. For those impacted communities that live among the well sites, it is much needed relief. It is unfortunate when the brunt of toxic pollution is concentrated among BIPOC communities when basic health services within those areas are already limited and or non-existent.
“The New Mexican Land Office is an agency that has engaged in open dialogue with impacted communities and advocates about the harms of oil and gas. Commissioner Garcia Richard has modeled the leadership that should be repeated by Governor Lujan Grisham.”
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