Press Release Apr 20, 2018

Carlsbad Caverns National Park the Latest Target of Rushed Oil and Gas Leasing Process

The BLM's minuscule 10-day public scoping comment period for the nearly 200 parcel proposal comprising nearly 89,000 acres, some of which are about a mile from Carlsbad Caverns National Park, closes tonight.

ALBUQUERQUE – In the latest example of unnecessary, rushed processes that favor development over national park protection, 89,000 acres of land near Carlsbad Caverns National Park are under consideration for oil and gas leases. The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) minuscule 10-day public scoping comment period closes at midnight tonight for the nearly 200 parcel proposal. The BLM is considering lands including those within one mile of the boundary and many within sight of Carlsbad Caverns, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has protested other recent lease sales near national parks including Chaco Culture National Historical Park and Fort Laramie National Historic Site, over the lack of consideration given to negative impacts of leasing and development on the parks’ resources, including areas of cultural significance and scenic vistas.

Research is still being conducted on the network of caves both inside and outside the boundaries of Carlsbad Caverns and the potential impacts that oil and gas development may have on the intricate and delicate systems. This massive lease sale by the BLM adds to a growing list of leases occurring near national parks, which since the start of 2017 has included parcels auctioned Dinosaur National Monument and Great Sand Dunes National Park, and considered near Zion National Park, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, and others.

Statement by Ernie Atencio, New Mexico Program Manager for National Parks Conservation Association

“National Parks Conservation Association is extremely concerned about the threats that such a massive leasing proposal would pose to this UNESCO World Heritage Site and national park. A miniscule 10-day comment period does not provide any realistic opportunity to examine such impacts or for community members and stakeholders to meaningfully weigh in.

“The unique and world class underground chambers were why Carlsbad Caverns was first protected as a national park site in the 1920s and why we will continue to fight to defend this special place. The BLM must seriously weigh the many non-drilling uses of shared landscapes, including the protection of the ecological, cultural, geological, recreational and scenic attributes near Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks that are critical to supporting the immediate and long-term integrity of these special places. Visitors to these national parks also support made-in-New-Mexico jobs and a robust tourism economy of $34 million in economic benefits in 2016 alone.

“Oil and gas development and national parks can coexist when the federal government works with communities to avoid conflicts – but this has not been the case under the Trump administration. This lease sale highlights a missed opportunity for the BLM to undertake an inclusive energy planning process to achieve the goals for the parks and the industry.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.