Sales of oil leases proceeding near sacred sites in NM: report

Sales of oil leases proceeding near sacred sites in NM: report

The Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is reportedly moving forward with plans to lease land near sacred Native American sites in New Mexico to companies for oil and natural gas drilling.

The Associated Press reports that a BLM spokeswoman confirmed that a public comment period for the leases will begin on Feb. 11.

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Democrats in the state and other local officials have blasted the agency for continuing the process even though critics were largely shut out of the process in January due to the record-long shutdown.

“It’s a mistake that while critical public services were shuttered for 35 days during the government shutdown, BLM still moved forward with this opaque process,” Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto MORE (D-N.M.) told the AP.

The final sale, which is scheduled for March 28, has not yet been finalized. If the deals go through, oil and natural gas drilling could begin near Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a historic Native American heritage site home to massive ancient stone structures, the AP noted.

Paul Reed, a spokesman with a local archaeology group, told the news service that other sites in the area besides the Chaco structures should be protected.

“Aside from the sites that everyone knows about in Chaco, there are a number of communities that exist within the 10-mile zone that we think need a greater level of protection,” he said.