Public hearing on fracking set for Monday

Community members invited to take part at Counselor Chapter house southeast of Farmington

Noel Lyn Smith,
Travis Allen, left, Basin Well Logging & Perforating supervisor, and Susan Alvillar, WPX community affairs representative, discuss operations at a WPX Energy fracking site at Turtle Mountain in Lybrook in 2015.
  • The hearing will focus on health issues, air quality, protecting sacred sites and other issues.
  • Members of the Frack Off Greater Chaco coalition will attendance and will provide information.

FARMINGTON — The Navajo Nation Council will hold a public hearing at 9 a.m. Monday at the Counselor Chapter house to collect comments from community members regarding the impact of hydraulic fracturing.

The purpose of the hearing is to listen to concerns about the technique from community members in Counselor, Nageezi, Ojo Encino, Torreon and surrounding communities, according to a press release from the Office of the Speaker.

In addition, the hearing will focus on health issues, air quality, protecting sacred sites, road conditions, human rights, public safety, jurisdiction, community consultation and communication, the release states.

The chapter house is located about 67 miles southeast of Farmington on U.S. Highway 550.

In March, the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee tabled a bill to request the United Nations to conduct a field hearing on the Navajo Nation regarding the effects of hydraulic fracturing. The tabling motion included a directive to schedule a public hearing within 60 days in one of the communities where fracking activity occurs.

Among the tribal lawmakers who voted in favor of the tabling motion was the bill's sponsor, Delegate Jonathan Hale, according to committee records.

Rebecca Sobel of Frack Off Greater Chaco — a coalition of community leaders, Native American groups and nonprofit environmental organizations to stop fracking in the greater Chaco area — said it is great to see the tribal council take steps to collect comments from residents and to integrate community feedback in deciding the fate of the bill.

Sobel said community members continue to see the impact of hydraulic fracturing, as well as an increase in activity, and it is up to them to demand that leaders put an end to such activity.

She added that members of the coalition will be in attendance and will provide information outside the chapter house.

Zach Stone, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management's Farmington Field Office, said the office will have representatives at the hearing.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

If you go

What: Navajo Nation Council public hearing regarding hydraulic fracturing

When: 9 a.m. Monday

Where: Counselor Chapter house, 9828 Chapter House Road off U.S. Highway 550, building No. 14

More info: Call the Office of the Speaker at 928-871-7160