How To Protest Oil & Gas Lease Sale in Chaco Canyon 2019

Crystal Muzik
Feb 8 · 6 min read

As the word got out about the upcoming oil and gas lease sales occurring near Chaco Cultural National Historical Park in New Mexico, I was outraged that this was happening again. I spent time researching how and when to provide my public comment.

I, like many, got tangled in the Bureau of Land Management website, clicking on multiple links, documents, and maps trying to find more information. It was a maze of government garble and in no way is it easy for a common lay person to understand. Therefore, here I am to help you again! I hope to provide information, maps, oil/gas parcel numbers, when/how to comment, and any other information about this upcoming issue.

It is disgraceful that the Trump Administration is moving ahead with this sale and has left the public out of the process that was fast-tracked during the shutdown.

Chaco Canyon is a sacred site that is revered around the world and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Between AD 900 and 1150, Chaco Canyon was a major center of culture for the Ancestral Pueblo Peoples. It deserves to be remained protected from any harmful development that would damage its precious historical and cultural resources.


Please note, that the public comment period has been drastically shortened and may be at threat due to another government shutdown.

The Lease Sale will occur online on March 28, 2019 . This includes parcels for the Rio Puerco, Farmington, Carlsbad, Oklahoma Field Offices/Districts. Most of the parcels that affect nearby Chaco Canyon are under the Farmington Field Office District. The parcels for the Farmington Field Office include 9 in Sandoval County, 14 in San Juan County, 7 in McKinley County, and 1 in Rio Arriba County. The Proposed Action is to lease 55 nominated parcels of federal minerals administered by the Bureau of Land Management New Mexico, covering 16,377.06 acres.

  • Lease Sale Notice and Protest Period — February 11, 2019 thru February 20, 2019

Public Comment Periods

As of February 7th, 2019, ZERO documents have been uploaded to the E Planning BLM-Land Use website. We shall wait and see what appears on February 11th, and if we are able to electronically submit public comments on the NEPA project links.

Take the time to provide a useful comment and not strictly an opinion or repetitive comments. Make it unique and be sure to include your name and address and be aware at any time your public comment, may, well, be “public”!,35.9705,-107.2079,36.3192

Protest Period

A parcel may be protested. Protests received that do not meet the following requirements will be summarily dismissed.

  • Submission of the protest to the BLM New Mexico State Office no later than close of business (4:30 PM local Mountain Time) on the last day of the protest period. (Which is February 20th)
  • Submission of a hardcopy protest mailed or hand delivered to the BLM New Mexico State Office, Attention: State Director, 301 Dinosaur Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87508.
  • Inclusion of the name and address of the protesting party. If the party signing the protest is doing so on behalf of an association, partnership or corporation (group), the signing party must reveal the relationship between the party and the group. An individual member of a group cannot make a protest in the group’s name without authorization of the group.
  • Reference to the specific parcel number(s) being protested.
  • Disclosure of protesting party’s interest in the parcel(s).
  • Inclusion of a statement of reason(s) to support the protest of the specific parcel(s).

Small Print: Any protest, including names and street addresses, submitted will be made available for public review. Individuals submitting a protest may request their personal identifiable information be withheld from public review or from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, by prominently stating this request at the beginning of the protest. Such requests will be honored to the extent allowed by law. All protests received from associations, partnerships, corporations (groups) or individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of a group, will be made available for public inspection in their entirety.

Government Blah Blah Blah About Public Comments:

Please note that the most useful public comments are substantive comments that identify issues relevant to the proposed action, question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of information, methodology or assumptions, present reasonable alternatives other than those analyzed, cause changes or revisions in the alternatives being analyzed, or contain new technical or scientific information for the BLM to consider in the environmental analysis to be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Comments which contain only opinions or preferences, or comments that are essentially identical to other comments will not be specifically addressed in the environmental review process.

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your public scoping comment, you should be aware that your entire comment — including your personal identifying information — may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

For more information, contact:

NEPA Lead (Farmington Field Office)
Jillian Aragon
Planning and Environmental Coordinator
6251 North College Boulevard, Suite A
Farmington, NM 87402–1738
(505) 564–7722

NEPA Lead (Rio Puerco Field Office)
Lucas Vargo
Environmental Protection Specialist
100 Sun Avenue Northeast
Pan American Building, Suite 330
Albuquerque, NM 87107–4935
(575) 289–0068,35.9705,-107.2079,36.3192

Government Blah Blah Blah about Oil/gas leases, Exploratory, and Future Drilling:
Once sold, the lease purchaser has the exclusive right to use as much of the leased lands as is necessary to explore and drill oil and gas within the lease boundaries, subject to the stipulations attached to the lease (43 CFR 3101.1–2).

Oil and gas leases are issued for a 10-year period and continue for as long thereafter as oil or gas is produced in paying quantities. If a lessee fails to produce oil and gas, does not make annual rental payments, does not comply with the terms and conditions of the lease, or relinquishes the lease, exclusive right to develop the leasehold reverts to the federal government and the lease can be re-offered in another sale. Drilling of wells on a lease is not permitted until the lease owner or operator secures approval of a drilling permit and a surface use plan specified under Onshore Oil and Gas Orders and as described in 43 CFR 3162.

A permit to drill would not be authorized until site-specific NEPA analysis is conducted. Site specific mitigation measures and Best Management Practices (BMPs) would be attached as Conditions of Approval (COAs) for each proposed exploration and development activity authorized on a lease.


· New Mexico Regional Oil & Gas Lease Sales (Start Here)

· Farmington, New Mexico Draft Parcel List of Oil/Gas Leases for Sale in March 2019

· BLM E-Planning Project Site for New Mexico Oil/Gas Leases (Nothing Uploaded to Site)

· BLM E-Planning Project Site for Farming Field Office (Some Information, but Very Limited)

· Map: BLM New Mexico Oil & Gas Lease Sales (This is the BEST visual I Can Find Out There !)

In Recent News Articles:

Feds Move Ahead With Oil and Gas Leases Near World Heritage Site by Digital Journal

Feds plan to issue oil leases near Chaco Canyon in March by Santa Fe New Mexican News

US oil lease near sacred park pushes forward by KOB 4 News out of Albuquerue, New Mexico

Modern Look at Chaco Canyons Ancient Past by University of Colorado-Boulder



Fracking Threatens Chaco Canyon — YouTube:

Indigenous Voices on Protecting Greater Chaco

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