HECHO has launched a series of ads in print and online calling on President Barack Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to implement an approach that balances development with conservation, one that includes the Latino community’s concerns in the process of leasing our public lands. The ads began running last week online and in several newspapers in the Southwest where an oil and gas boom has led to concerns among Latino sportsmen that public lands are increasingly threatened by oil and gas development.
“Our recent polling shows that 95% of Latino registered voters in CO and NM are concerned about losing access to public lands our families have enjoyed for generations,” said Rod Torrez, Director of HECHO. “Latinos want our concerns taken into account before our government leases our public lands, and we expect to be at the table with industry and regulators from day one. A more balanced approach would do that, and prevents the types of conflicts that occur now when local communities aren’t consulted.”
The ads will run in English and Spanish in newspapers in areas of New Mexico and Colorado where public lands have already been leased or are being threatened by upcoming leases for oil and gas development. In addition, online ads including an online video, will reach users through Facebook and Twitter in the same markets as well as nationally. The print ads have run in the following newspapers:
- Pueblo Chieftain, Pueblo, Colorado
- La Voz, Colorado
- Taos News, Taos, New Mexico
- Las Vegas Optic, Las Vegas, New Mexico
The ad reminds readers that 93% of Latinos surveyed in the two states strongly believe oil and gas drilling should occur responsibly and in the right places.
The print ads all conclude with the tagline, "Protect our heritage. Protect public lands."
The focus of the ads on a balanced approach refers to executive action the Department of the Interior can take to implement a process that evaluates potential impact of oil and gas development on sensitive or culturally relevant land. Currently, leases are handed out by DOI without consultation with local communities, often leading to protests and delays that could be avoided with a more thorough and inclusive process.
The President and Secretary of the Interior could implement this new approach without congress. Sites potentially affected include public lands commonly used for outdoor recreation throughout Colorado and New Mexico, including lands around national parks such as Chaco Canyon and Dinosaur National Monument. Unlike designating National Parks that require congressional action or National Monuments requiring an executive order, this process is a simple regulatory change that affects how the Bureau of Land Management issues leases of public lands that include camping, hiking, hunting and jogging trails close to where Latino families live.