Drilling overwhelms agency protecting America's lands
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Drilling overwhelms agency protecting America's lands

Rachel Leven |
November 13, 2018

The Bureau of Land Management is making it easier to produce oil and gas on federal acreage. In southeastern New Mexico, it can't even keep up with what's already happening.


CARLSBAD, N.M. — Wayne Smith was hardened to a certain level of chaos here, on land the American public owns. But even he was incredulous as he surveyed an area he leases for grazing, now cleared of grass and cluttered with above-ground pipelines, a drill pad for multiple wells and other oil and gas infrastructure.

“I still pay a grazing lease right there,” Smith said in May, pointing to a government map showing there should be no more than 17 acres of development on the site instead of the 125 acres he saw in front of him. “Now, what’s my cow going to eat?”

This isn’t what’s supposed to happen on publicly owned land the federal government oversees. The Bureau of Land Management can lease the same property to more than one party at once, but if New Mexico ranchers request it — as Smith did — the agency has instructed its field offices to contact them before such a build-up occurs. Smith said no one notified him. The BLM declined to comment on the matter.

Credit by - The Center for Public Integrity

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