Thursday, July 18, 2019

Archaeological Sites Destroyed Under BLM Watch in New Mexico

El Capitan near the Texas/New Mexico border. Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
According to this article in Mother Jones by Tay Wiles, important archaeological sites on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land were destroyed by the oil and gas industry under the watch of officials in the Carlsbad, New Mexico Office. In addition, BLM staffers complained that environmental regulations were not being followed.

Southern New Mexico has been going through an oil and gas boom in recent years and is producing more oil than ever before. The economy of the state is deeply impacted by the boom and bust cycles of oil and natural gas and there is always pressure in the state to keep the boom moving forward. As is seen in many regions that rely on extractive industries for a significant portion of their tax base, the funding of New Mexico's public institutions, such as higher education, swing wildly with the success of the industry.

Of course this is no reason to break laws.

New Mexico's Native American population accounts for approximately 11% of its population. The loss of important archaeological sites and the way the situation was handled will certainly lead to concerns among this community.

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