Despite opposition from the Democratic governor of New Mexico and much of the local population, the Bush administration has agreed to extract oil and gas south of the state on federal lands. of great ecological interest. The final development plan, presented by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and described by it as "innovative" and "environmentally friendly", authorizes the drilling of a maximum of 141 exploration wells and 84 production wells at Otero Mesa, in the Chihuahua Desert. Of the 810 hectares concerned, a total of 000 particularly sensitive hectares will be protected from any
In addition, the program obliges companies to rehabilitate areas damaged by boreholes. But will all his precautions be enough to calm the worries? The region's energy potential remains uncertain (the BLM envisages low or medium production) while the threats to the environment are well known. In order to operate the wells, operators will have to draw large quantities of groundwater, at the risk of polluting them. Gold Otero Mesa constitutes, according to a study commissioned by the State, the largest water table
untapped New Mexico. It is also a large wetland that hosts many animal and plant species that are sometimes rare.
Last year, 85% of the opinions collected during a one-month public comment period were against the project. A study commissioned at the time by the
opponents of the project denounced the risk weighing on the water table and on the water supply.