NM Federal Judge approves drilling in Otero Mesa

NM Federal Judge approves drilling in Otero Mesa

Drilling for oil and gas will soon begin on one of New Mexico’s most controversial public lands, the Southeastern Otero Mesa.

For years, environmentalists promoted and fought to preserve the Otero Mesa for years, but a Federal Judge in Albuquerque has allowed drilling to begin on 5% of the two million wildlife rich acres.

Bureau of Land Management officials say natural gas was first discovered in the area in the late 1990′s and can be used to heat homes, water, and even fuel vehicles like El Paso’s Sun Metro buses.

Future testing will say how much fuel is actually there. Officials tell ABC-7 that half the money made by sale of gas from the will go right back to New Mexico.

Environmentalists continue to fight drilling plans saying wildlife and groundwater quality will suffer, and that drilling isn’t the answer to our energy problems, “we could drill every single acre in the country, and we would never become energy independent. If we increased our fuel efficiency standards for all automobiles, SUVs, and trucks, we’d save a lot more oil and gas.”

Ed Roberson, a spokesperson with the Bureau of Land Management tells ABC-7, “BLM manages onshore resources for the public and it helps for us to produce off those lands. We can do it in such a restrictive way and make sure the surface is protected and restored. It just makes sense.”

A spokesman for Governor Bill Richardson tells ABC-7 that he is also planning to fight the Federal Judge’s decision and preserve the entire Otero Mesa.

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