Rio Chama Watershed Alert!!!
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD REGARDING OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT IN OUR WATERSHED!!! WITH A WESTERN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW (WELC) LAWSUIT SUPPORTING US, THIS IS A BATTLE WE CAN WIN. PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS TO THE BLM BY FEB. 20TH USING THE CONTACT INFORMATION PROVIDED AT THE END OF THIS ALERT!!!
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Farmington Field Office (FFO) is
amending its outdated 2003 Resource Management Plan (RMP) to include
horizontal drilling and new industrialized fracking technologies in
Greater Chaco. Although we are on the extreme edge of what is referred
to as the “Greater Chaco”, the 13 Santa Fe National Forest parcels opened to oil and gas leasing in the Rio Chama Watershed are included in this plan area. The process is open for official public comment until February 20th. This is a fantastic opportunity to have our voices heard and speak out for an end to new leasing of northwest New Mexico’s public lands.
As a resident of the Rio Chama Watershed, the first priority in your comments regarding what the BLM should consider in the revision of the management plan should be stating the fact that the BLM has failed to take a “hard look” at the impacts from oil and gas leasing on the precious water resources of the Rio Chama Watershed. A study of the surface and ground waters at the Continental Divide, where the 13 parcels in our watershed are located, has not been addressed yet. The Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) that you are commenting on must address this science and hydrology in order for oil and gas development impacts to be understood! Demand a scientific study on the hydrology at the Continental Divide BEFORE any new leases are auctioned off in the SF National Forest and request that all new applications for permits to drill in the forest be denied.
You can also raise the following important points in your comments:
- BLM’s current leasing decisions violate National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) implementing regulations.
- Climate Change and water resources are not sufficiently addressed in the outdated 2003 Resource Management Plan (RMP) that is currently being used.
- The outdated 2003 RMP fails to provide a NEPA required, site specific, hard look at impacts to the forest of new fracking technologies.
- There are incorrect assumptions in the outdated 2003 RMP regarding the massive amounts of water required with new drilling techniques. Nearly one billion gallons of water could be permanently removed from our hydrologic system as a result of BLM’s lease issuance (as stated by the relevant Western Environmental Law lawsuit). The agency has a duty to analyze what the impacts of this water removal might be on our watershed.
- BLM is obligated to manage its lands for multiple-use. With 91% of public lands in the Greater Chaco already leased, we are past the point where any balance can be achieved. Balance in this case requires ending all new leasing and starting to retire old leases. This should include the 13 parcels in the Rio Chama Watershed.
- Development of oil and gas wells requires thousands of truck trips per well. Traffic, noise, and light intrude on the daily lives of residents, negatively impact local wildlife, and degrade the region’s landscape. According to data from the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division, there were 1,477 reported spills in 2015, an 87% increase since 2011, and an average of 4 spills per day.
- Smog and regional haze resulting from oil and gas development pose serious threats to local communities, especially to children and elderly with respiratory complications. Additional pollutants, including BTEX compounds like benzene and formaldehyde, significantly increase (nearly double) the likelihood that people living with a half mile of an oil or gas pad will get cancer.
- The BLM must not endanger irreplaceable cultural resources with a practice that continually threatens the health and quality of life of local people.
- A moratorium on new drilling leases in the Greater Chaco area until the new Resource Management Plan Amendment (RMPA) is completed is the only way to insure that the oil and gas industry does not harm our watershed.
Please feel free to cut and paste these talking points into your comments.
You can contact Mark Ames (505-564-7611) at the Farmington Field office if you need more information on the revision of the outdated 2003 Resource Management Plan.
Send your comment letters by Feb. 20th, 2017, in one of the following ways:
BLM Farmington Field Office
Attn: Mark Ames, Project Manager
6251 College Blvd., Suite A
Farmington, New Mexico 87402