Press Release Jul 24, 2018

Oil and Gas Development Delayed Near Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Bureau of Land Management temporarily deferred lease sales to study the local geology and its interaction with groundwater

SANTA FE, New Mexico – Yesterday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) temporarily delayed a decision on the irresponsible proposal to allow oil and gas drilling on the doorstep of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. BLM opted to place the process on hold for all parcels within a 10-mile radius of the park to allow the agency more time to study the local geology and its interaction with groundwater.

The BLM originally provided the public only 10 days to comment and raise concerns about the environmental impacts of the 89,000-acre leasing proposal, including lands next door to and within the viewshed of Carlsbad Caverns. Potential impacts of oil and gas leases include visual, air, and light pollution on the surface, as well as unknown effects on caves below ground that could be connected to caverns within the park.

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

“We are very pleased the BLM listened to the public’s concerns by recognizing that these are delicate and rare resources that need to be further studied and analyzed. The BLM has rushed lease sales to auction without a public process as required. Yesterday’s decision to keep the public involved in the future of our public lands across the Southwest is a step in the right direction.

“We recognize that the delay is only temporary, so we must continue to fight to protect Carlsbad Caverns National Park and limit impacts from oil and gas development on this still unexplored underground cave karst system. The administration’s incoherent approach to energy development in this region is not smart or sustainable without consultation of key stakeholders and the consideration of their concerns.

“We are optimistic that we can find common ground to protect this incredible landscape.”