Report: NM’s Chihuahuan Desert Rivers at Risk from Oil, Gas Development

By: September 20, 2017 4:29 pmViews: 8

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A new report, Too Wild to Drill, from The Wilderness Society says the damage and destruction that would be caused from extractive industries allowed on Chihuahuan Desert Rivers near Carlsbad Caverns would put southeast New Mexico’s future at risk.

The area is one of 15 identified in the crosshairs of the Trump administration’s aggressive agenda to open public lands to oil and gas drilling.

Michael Casaus, New Mexico state director for The Wilderness Society, says the development of oil, gas and other resources in the area would threaten the ecology, economy and recreational opportunities.

“We believe there are places in the United States that are just simply too wild to drill, and they’re too special and they’re too valuable to be destroyed for short-term commercial gains,” he states.

Casaus says the Bureau of Land Management is evaluating future plans for the region and should be providing information about how it will protect sensitive areas such as the Chihuahuan Desert Rivers region from a larger energy footprint.

The National Park Service has repeatedly raised concerns about oil and gas drilling near Carlsbad Caverns National Park as well as the cave system and aquifer below, which are largely leased for oil and gas.

Casaus says with 800 new oil and gas wells per year already moving forward, the Desert Rivers ecosystems will be subject to toxic spills and production activities that could result in surface and groundwater contamination, habitat fragmentation, increased road traffic and air pollution.

“This is part of a landscape that contains the Carlsbad National Park, which is an internationally renowned place for tourists and also for scientists wishing to explore a lot of unidentified species,” he stresses.

Nearly 400,000 tourists visit New Mexico each year to explore the 100 caves at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

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