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Proposal for oil & gas 'man camp' in Greater Chaco sparks concern of violence

An abandoned "man camp" in the southwestern United States.
Il Fatto Quotidiano
An abandoned "man camp" in the southwestern United States.

A proposal from the oil and gas industry to set up a 75-person “man camp” in the Greater Chaco area has advocates and environmentalists up in arms about the impacts it could have on the land and on rates of sexual violence in the region.

A ‘man camp’ is temporary housing meant to host a large number of workers in the resource extraction industry. Usually, they are a collection of mobile homes or tents — but sometimes, companies put up proper houses.

The proposal, submitted to the Bureau of Land Management by oil and gas production company Logos Operating, would help expand drilling operations.

Cheyenne Antonio is with the Greater Chaco Coalition. She said these camps put Indigenous communities at increased risk of sexual violence and trafficking.

"We continue to see missing and murdered Diné women without no explanation of what happened to them," said Antonio. "Were they dating oil and gas workers?”

A study from the Sovereign Bodies Institute & Brave Heart Society has found a correlation between sexual violence and missing person cases near industry projects — like the now cancelled Keystone XL pipeline.

Antonio also expressed disappointment in the Bureau of Land Management and Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland for failing to explore these booms of violence in oil and gas country and for falling short on promises made to protect the area.

To her, data collection is crucial in understanding the scope of the problem.

KUNM reached out to Logos Operating for comment. If we hear back, we'll update this story.

Bryce Dix is our local host for NPR's Morning Edition.