Monday Business Watch - more federal land leased for oil and gas drilling while conservationists pitch their own lease approach.
Las Cruces Sun News Reporter Damien Willis covers the area's top business stories including more federal land leases for oil and gas drilling while conservationists pitch their own lease approach. Here is a transcript of the conversation between Willis and KRWG's KC Counts:
Well, Damien, in the Monday Business Watch, New Mexico's biggest business is bound to come up fairly frequently. That's, of course, the oil and gas industry - and the leasing of public lands is obviously a controversial topic.
Yes, it certainly is KC, and more land was set for lease to the oil and gas industry in southeast New Mexico as land managers look to retool federal rules to prioritize conservation throughout the US. And that's kind of an interesting thing because it makes the topic a little less controversial. But the Bureau of Land Management announced a public comment period for its November lease sale in Southeast New Mexico, offering about 434 acres on 6 parcels in Eddy and Lee counties, so that public comment period runs until June 15th of this year, giving the public a chance to provide input on an environmental assessment release that came out last Tuesday. They said that there was no significant impact that was expected to the surrounding environment or the communities if the lands in New Mexico were ultimately leased and operated by the oil and gas industry. So that's kind of interesting, but you know, of course this is always a little controversial. Conservationists argued continual oil and gas operations throughout New Mexico could risk threats to wildlife and other natural resources, and that's why BLM proposed in March a rule that would see the agency prioritize conservation. In its future planning, including proposed areas of critical environmental concern that would be close to development and offer conservation leases actually with federal lands to be set aside for that purpose. So that's really kind of the most interesting development in this whole thing.
I think the question that would come to mind is who pays for the conservation lease. There's not a lot of profit in conservation, right? So where do those funds come from?
I think that it would probably be taxpayer funded, but I don't know for sure.
Well, that does sound like the most likely source. All right, we'll see what happens next. Damien, thanks so much for the update and have a great week.
Absolutely. You too, KC.