May 4th, 2018

Honorable Senator Tom Udall
400 Gold Avenue SW, Suite 300
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Honorable Senator Martin Heinrich
400 Gold Avenue SW, Suite 1080
Albuquerque, N.M. 87102

Re: New Mexico September 2018 Competitive Oil and Gas Lease Sale Comment Period (DOI-BLM-NM-P000-2018-0004-EA)

Dear Senator Udall, Senator Heinrich,

We write today to inform you of changes directed by Department of Interior Instruction Memorandum No. 2018-034 that are currently restricting public participation in important public lands decisions in the state, notably a recently announced lease sale by the Bureau of Land Management in southeast New Mexico. As a result, our coalition representing thousands of New Mexicans, requests your assistance in ensuring the inclusion of a public comment period for the Bureau of Land Management’s September 2018 Lease Sale in the Carlsbad Field Office.

Currently, there is no indication that a public comment period, except for during scoping, will be included in the lease sale. This raises concerns from the public, particularly park and public land advocates, who will be left out of key public land management decisions that could have a negative impact on New Mexico’s $9.9 billion outdoor economy[1] including over $132 million connected to national parks visitation.[2] A number of the parcels are nominated inside potential Areas of Critical Environmental Concern and Lands with Wilderness Characteristics, as well as adjacent to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Considering the size, scale and scope of this lease sale, we believe it is necessary that members of the public be allowed to participate in this process. An inclusive process will give a better opportunity for balanced development of this dynamic landscape, allow for oil and gas development to occur where appropriate, and for the protection of Carlsbad Caverns National Park and its connected landscape.

Throughout the west, and particularly in New Mexico, the balanced management of the complex landscape is critical to ensuring that our natural wonders are protected, local and state economies grow, public health is safeguarded and our cultural heritage continues to be part our collective spirit. These shared goals can only be achieved through an inclusive, collaborative process that allows the public to be a participant in managing their public lands.

We encourage you to support our effort in scheduling a 30-day public comment period for the Draft Environmental Assessment that will allow for meaningful public consultation and input regarding important oil and gas leasing decisions as proposed.

Thank you for considering our request and we look forward to our continued work with you and your staff.


Ernie Atencio
New Mexico Program Manager
National Parks Conservation Association

Mike Murray
Executive Council
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks

Joelle Marier
Wildlands Coordinator
New Mexico Wild

Nada Culver
Senior Counsel
Director BLM Action Center
The Wilderness Society

cc:  Bob Ballard BLM/Aden Seidlitz BLM/Doug Neighbor NPS