Stakes High in New Mexico’s Permian as BLM Prepares Draft Resource Plan

Stakes High in New Mexico’s Permian as BLM Prepares Draft Resource Plan

The future of oil and gas development in New Mexico’s portion of the Permian Basin hangs in the balance as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wraps up two weeks of public hearings to discuss a draft blueprint for resource development and environmental mitigation covering millions of acres in the state.

Even if it hadn’t been 30 years since federal land managers last wrote a new resource management plan (RMP) and accompanying draft environmental impact statement, the 1,500-page tome now being scrutinized in a series of eight public hearings ending Friday would command the oil and gas industry’s attention. Comments will be taken until Nov. 5.

"The changes are in part due to continuing fluid and solid mineral extraction and energy developments in the area and new technologies being used to extract those resources," BLM officials said. "Concurrent extraction of both fluid and solid mineral reserves presents a management challenge not addressed adequately in the 1988 RMP and its amendments."

More than 2.8 million acres of federal land and subsurface minerals are at stake, mostly in Lea and Eddy counties, the same jurisdictions that recently pulled in nearly $1 billion in a BLM oil and gas lease sale.

"We are currently reviewing the RMP and will be preparing comments for the BLM," said New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA) spokesman Robert McEntyre. "The RMP is an important component of energy development in southeast New Mexico, and any plan should focus on allowing growth in the economy and energy production to continue."

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