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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.

BLM Hosts Heated Meeting In Santa Fe

Laura Paskus

On Thursday night, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hosted a crowded—and sometimes heated—public meeting in Santa Fe. Currently, the agency is considering a pipeline that would carry crude oil from northwestern New Mexico to rail lines along Interstate 40.

As it’s currently proposed, the 140-mile long pipeline would run across federal, private, state and Navajo Nation lands.  After local residents and activists complained, the agency agreed to extend the public comment period and hold three additional meetings.

During Thursday night’s meeting at the BLM’s office, local citizens from Santa Fe, activists, union members, and residents of the eastern Navajo Nation spoke.

Navajo activist Tina Garnanez questioned how many jobs the pipeline would bring to local workers. “They’re wanting to get those jobs, right, because they said that’s what we’ll give you if you allow us to put this pipeline across your land,” she said before the crowd of more than 125 people. “Do you think they’re going to hire all those people waiting at that chapter house waiting for these jobs? Or are they going to truck someone else in?”

David Wait, CEO of Saddle Butte Pipeline, says that moving the oil by pipeline is safer than trucking it. And, he says, the project’s route hasn’t been finalized.

To see a map of the proposed pipeline's route or learn how to comment, click hereto download the handouts from Thursday night's meeting. 

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