ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It was supposed to be a virtual public meeting focused on a review of a proposed plan that will govern oil and gas drilling and other development across a vast corner of northwestern New Mexico that is home to a national park and spots important to Native American tribes.
Instead, Thursday’s meeting hosted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs quickly shifted to a steady stream of criticism from tribal members and environmentalists who took issue with the virtual platform.
They argued that those who will be most affected by the plan aren’t able to comment because they live in rural areas without adequate broadband and poor cellphone service. They also pointed to the significant effects the coronavirus pandemic has had on the Navajo Nation and some New Mexico pueblos.
Marissa Naranjo, a policy director with the All Pueblo Council of Governors, warned federal officials that the group’s leadership would not be able to attend Thursday’s meeting or any of the others planned in the coming days because their attention is focused on the outbreak.