Judge dismisses historic preservation claim in drilling case

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A U.S. district judge has dismissed claims by environmentalists who argued that the approval of dozens of drilling permits in northwestern New Mexico violated historic preservation laws due to potential threats to culturally significant sites.
    
Despite an earlier ruling that indicated the claims had merit, Judge James Browning issued an opinion and amended order this week determining that federal land managers did not violate the law because they considered the effects of the wells on historical sites.
    
The decision comes in a long-running dispute over management of vast expanses of land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
    
The oil and gas industry welcomed the ruling, saying the 2015 lawsuit was more about derailing drilling rather than protecting the environment or the state’s cultural treasures.
    
Environmentalists say they’ll continue their fight to limit drilling in the region.

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