The Biden administration announced Monday that it has moved to shut down future oil, gas and mining activity on thousands of acres of New Mexico land for the next 50 years.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a sub-agency of the Department of the Interior (DOI), issued the Monday proposal to block new oil, gas and mineral extraction activity on 4,000 acres of land in Sandoval County, New Mexico, according to a DOI press release. The proposal is motivated by the agency’s desire to safeguard tribal cultures and recreational activity in the area, and the policy would last for 50 years if finalized.
The county sourced more than 2 million barrels of oil and nearly 10 million cubic feet of natural gas in 2020, the year before President Joe Biden took office, according to data from DrillingEdge. The county is also home to six gravel mines, including four of the largest in the state, according to the NM Political Report.
“Today we’re responding to calls from tribes, elected leaders and community members who want to see these public lands protected,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said of the proposal. “We look forward to hearing more from the public to inform decisions about how activities, like gravel mining, may impact these lands, including the important cultural and natural resources.”
The withdrawn areas included in the proposal are from four tracts of land that are “sacred” and “sensitive” to local tribes, according to the DOI press release. In addition to the value of the covered land to local tribes, the proposal would also “boost important local recreation opportunities and support wildlife habitat connectivity.”
The proposal marks the latest in a string of moves by the Biden administration to clamp down on future oil, gas and mining activity on public lands. Before DOI announced earlier this month that seven remaining leases awarded from a 2021 sale of land in the Alaska and that the agency would withdraw over 13 million acres of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA) from oil and gas leasing activity, Biden designated nearly 1 million acres in Arizona outside the Grand Canyon as a monument in August, making the uranium in that area effectively off-limits to future claims and BLM moved to ban future oil activity on 1.6 million acres of Colorado land earlier in August.
The DOI referred the Daily Caller News Foundation to its press release for the proposal. The White House and BLM did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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