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N.M. Leads in Balancing Energy and Conservation

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With domestic oil and natural gas production at record levels, it’s worth highlighting New Mexico’s leadership in supplying our nation’s energy needs as well as our success in balancing responsible development with a strong conservation ethic.

New Mexico is a major oil and gas producing state that plays a significant role in contributing to America’s domestic energy supply while reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Much of the energy development in New Mexico occurs on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

A few quick facts:

New Mexico is the fifth largest natural gas producer and the sixth largest oil producer in the nation.

There are over 6,500 producing oil and gas leases on public land in New Mexico, the majority of which are located in the Carlsbad and Farmington areas.

Leasing of public lands for oil and gas production has brought in billions in revenues and royalties for New Mexico, much of which helps fund public education. Last year, the BLM provided over $400 million to New Mexicans, as well as $500 million to the U.S. Treasury.

BLM-New Mexico’s important role in managing oil and gas development on public lands is a responsibility we take seriously. Furthermore, the BLM’s multiple use mandate requires us to balance energy development and environmental conservation. These are mutual goals that belong together.

For years, BLM-New Mexico has been working proactively with a diverse coalition of partners – oil and gas companies, ranchers, sportsmen, environmental groups and other government agencies – to develop practical and innovative cooperative conservation measures that allow for responsible energy development and protection of wildlife habitat.

Currently, many in southeastern New Mexico are concerned about the potential listing of the dunes sagebrush lizard on the Endangered Species List and the effects such a decision may have on energy production. For the past four years, BLM has been working proactively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New Mexico State Land Office, industry groups and ranchers to implement conservation practices that reduce or eliminate impacts to the lizard’s habitat.

Leading energy companies are not just participating in these candidate conservation agreement efforts; many are stepping up with innovative ideas on how to improve the habitat conservation process. These commendable companies are producing energy as well as improving the health of the land.

To date, 29 energy companies and 39 ranchers have voluntarily enrolled over two million acres in candidate conservation agreements to protect sensitive species’ habitat.

Recently, the New Mexico State Land Office joined the agreement, adding nearly 250,000 acres of state land to these conservation efforts. While industry groups have helped improve the overall effectiveness of the candidate conservation process for protecting sensitive species, the State Land Office has helped enhance the scope of these efforts, extending the benefits of the conservation process to cover more ground and improve more habitat.

Balancing responsible energy development and sound environmental conservation is necessary. And it’s already happening across New Mexico. The success we are seeing with these cooperative conservation efforts shows we can achieve both by working together to find common sense solutions to the challenges we face.

Looking ahead, America’s public lands will play an increasingly important role in meeting our nation’s energy needs – with conventional oil and gas production as well as expanding wind and solar development.

Innovative ideas, enthusiastic participation and bold leadership from our partners guarantee that New Mexico will continue to lead in how we manage and protect our lands.

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