Federal oil and gas leasing to resume in New Mexico, U.S.

New Mexico environmental groups condemned the resumption of federal land leasing to the oil and gas industry after the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced leasing will resume on public land throughout the U.S., including in the country’s most active oilfield the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico.

Upon taking office in January, the administration of President Joe Biden imposed a temporary halt on federal oil and leasing as the Department of the Interior engaged in a review of its fossil fuel program, aiming to implement reforms that could better address pollution, climate change and land management.

That meant no lease sales, typically held quarterly for oil and gas companies to purchase tracts of federal land for development, were held in 2021 as of the summer.

Carlsbad-based Citizens Caring for the Future, a frequent opponent of pollution from the fossil fuel industry argued the pause on oil and gas leasing of public land enacted in January was needed to ensure the DOI conducted a proper review of its oil and gas program to mitigate pollution and devise better land management practices.

Group organizer Kayley Shoup, a resident of Carlsbad in the Permian Basin region, said fossil fuel extraction was proven to negatively impact public health and in the environment in the areas in communities where the industry operates.