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In this KUNM series, reporter Laura Paskus explores natural gas drilling and the burgeoning oil industry in northwestern New Mexico--its benefits, impacts, and future. Funding provided by the New Venture Fund.

Pipeline Public Comment Period Extended

Laura Paskus

At a meeting Thursday, officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management agreed to give the public more time and opportunities to weigh in on a proposed oil pipeline.

As KUNM reported earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is considering a proposal to build a pipeline that would move oil to markets from northwestern New Mexico. The proposed pipeline would cross federal, state, private and Navajo tribal lands.The pipeline will end up at rail lines near Grants and transport up to 50,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

According to Victoria Barr, the agency's Farmington Field Office district manager, the public comment period will be extended until January 31, 2015 and the agency will hold three additional public meetings in Farmington, Santa Fe, and Counselor.

The meeting dates and locations will be announced soon, she says.

Although the agency held one public meeting in Lybrook in early December, some local people living on the Navajo reservation fear their voices aren't being heard as oil development in the region increases. (Stay tuned to KUNM's Drilling Deep series to hear that story after the new year.)

Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico Energy Coordinator for the San Juan Citizens Alliance, was among those who requested additional opportunities for the public to learn more about the project and offer their input into the plans.

"It’s a significant action," he says of the 130-mile long proposed pipeline. "It warrants more information and more public involvement which is a necessary part of any project of this scale."

On December 23, the agency will also be conducting an "onsite inspection" for another proposed pipeline in the area. That five-mile natural gas pipeline, proposed by Williams Four Corners LLC, would service wells in the Lybrook area.

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