WASHINGTON — In keeping with the Administration’s priorities of being a good neighbor and building trust with tribal governments, the Bureau of Land Management today announced that it would defer its March 8 New Mexico oil and gas lease sale near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Thursday that he directed the BLM to defer its scheduled Farmington Field Office lease sale so the agency could complete an ongoing analysis of more than 5,000 cultural sites in the proposed leasing area.
“After hearing from Tribes, Senators Udall and Heinrich, historic preservation experts, and other stakeholders, I've decided to defer the sale that was scheduled for later this month. I've always said there are places where it is appropriate to develop and where it's not. This area certainly deserves more study,” Secretary Zinke said.
“My job is to make sure that the local voices are heard, and the state and national interests are reflected. In this case, there is some concern about the proximity to Chaco of some of the leases and the uncertainty about cultural impacts,” he said.
The proposed lease sale includes 25 parcels, covering 4,434 acres within Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and San Juan counties in northwestern New Mexico. The surface ownership of the proposed parcels includes private land (2,033 acres), BLM-managed public land (1,031 acres), and tribal trust land (1,370 acres -- federal minerals only).
“We understand the cultural importance of this area, and the need to gather additional information about this landscape before holding a lease sale,” said BLM New Mexico Acting State Director Aden Seidlitz. “We will continue to work with consulting parties, including tribal and state governments, state and federal agencies and others, as we consider and analyze impacts of oil and gas leasing in the area.”
Ahead of this scheduled sale, the BLM has been working with the consulting parties under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act on all of the proposed parcels. The BLM must complete an extensive cultural report, which will be used to support the agency’s findings of how oil and gas leasing will affect the proposed leasing area. Once the analysis is complete, the BLM will pursue offering parcels for lease that have been deemed appropriate for leasing.
The BLM awards oil and gas leases for a period of 10 years, and for as long thereafter as there is production in paying quantities. The revenue from the sale of federal leases, as well as the 12.5 percent royalties collected from the production of those leases, is shared between the federal government and the states where the leasing and production occurs.