Beneath a giant methane gas cloud recently identified by NASA, the oil and gas fracking industry is rapidly expanding in northwestern New Mexico. Flares that light up the night sky at drilling sites along the stretch of Route 550 that passes through the San Juan Basin, which sits on top of the oil rich Mancos Shale, are tell-tale indicators of the fracking boom.
Much of the land being fracked belongs to the federal government. The rest is a mixture of state, private and Navajo Nation land.
The region is known to the Diné (Navajo) as Dinétah, the land of their ancestors. It is home of the Bisti Badlands and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a World Heritage Site.
"The land in the Chaco Canyon area has lots of sacred places. The corporations don't care. They come and go and tear up the places. They do their thing and away they go—and somebody else, somewhere else is getting rich off this land, not us," Sarah Jane White, a Diné environmental activist, told DeSmogBlog, "Fracking doesn't benefit the Native American people."