Environmental group suing BLM over drilling near Carlsbad Caverns

New Mexico

An environmental group says U.S. land managers are giving the oil and gas industry a free pass to pollute and to damage our precious sites. Now they’re suing the Bureau of Land Management in an effort to stop some of it.

WildEarth Guardians filed the lawsuit in federal court Monday against BLM over the drilling near Carlsbad Caverns. That area known as the Permian Basin  is now considered the world’s second most productive oil field and is pumping billions of dollars into the state’s economy.

However, WildEarth Guardians ask at what cost? “They are doing so in complete disregard to our climate crisis and overall their duty to ensure that American public lands are fully protected and not sacrificed,” says WildEarth Guardians Climate and Energy Program Director Jeremy Nichols.

According to the lawsuit, the fragile cave system at Carlsbad Caverns National Park is at risk, along with the surrounding wildlife and already-deteriorating air quality. They claim proper environmental studies were not conducted before granting leases.

Nichols says the so-called economic benefit from oil and gas won’t amount to anything if New Mexico doesn’t have the resources to sustain the state. “New Mexico has so much to lose in the face of the climate crisis water is scarce in the American southwest and yet the BLM is refusing to take any responsibility in protecting water resources,” said Nichols.

Nichols says they are taking the same stance they did when working to stop oil and gas production in Chaco Canyon. They were successful in that fight, getting the attention of the interior secretary who has ordered a moratorium on drilling until a management plan can be crafted.

KRQE News 13 reached out to the Bureau of Land Management and they don’t comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit would affect  210 oil and gas leases covering nearly 70,000 acres in southeast New Mexico. 

A spokesperson for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association says the industry provides 00,000 jobs, $2.2 billion in tax revenue, and millions to local economies. They say these lawsuits are incredibly damaging to New Mexico, hurting the ability of the state to grow economically and to provide money for our schools. 

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