The Bureau of Land Management yesterday released its environmental assessment of leasing land for oil and natural gas development in New Mexico, recommending that the number of parcels leased to industry should be limited.
Initially, the oil and gas industry asked that 38 parcels of land near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park be leased for development, which amounts to more than 19,000 acres. One parcel was less than a quarter-mile from the park.
BLM has proposed that the parcels to be leased be cut down to just four.
Critics, including Arizona’s Hopi Tribe, have said that drilling in the area would harm environmental and archaeological resources at the site. BLM officials said they worked with tribes before releasing their assessment (AP/Albuquerque Journal, Sept. 4).