Thursday, June 30, 2016

Report: BLM favors oil and gas on public lands

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management favors oil and gas development over all other uses of public lands and doesn't ensure environmental protections for areas such as those near Chaco Culture National Historic Park, according to an environmental group's report released today . The Wilderness Society made the claim in its June 28 report, "No Exit: Fixing the BLM's Indiscriminate Energy Leasing," but oil and gas and agency officials in New Mexico argue that the BLM oversees public lands fairly with adequate consideration for all possible uses. According to the report, "90 percent of the public lands managed by (the BLM) are open to oil and gas leasing and mineral resource extraction even in areas of little or no potential for developing these resources." That number leads to a broken multiple land use policy by the BLM and an unfair monopoly by the oil and gas industry at the expense of land use considerations such as conservation, according to the report. New Mexico Oil and Gas Association President Steve Henke was the BLM's Farmington district manager before he joined the oil and gas advocacy group. Henke said the Wilderness Society is choosing to take "a one-sided view" of the BLM's mission without fully considering the actual land uses in place. "There's 32 million acres leased for oil and gas — half of those leases have production, about 16 million acres — of the BLM's 250 million acres and there's about 53 million acres that are permanently closed to oil and gas production, one-fifth of the BLM acreage," Henke said. "To suggest that the BLM is somehow out of balance is a broad misrepresentation of the facts. ... I think it's a piece of propaganda to try to influence public opinion to move the federal government and the BLM away from the very legitimate role of minerals development." Nada Culver, director of the Wilderness Society's Denver, Colo.-based BLM Action Center, said the BLM's decisions on public lands exhibits a trend that has been out of balance in favor of oil and gas development for more than a decade...more

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