The New Mexico Appeals Court decision in early 2010 invalidated the BLM oil and gas drilling plan, the battle to permanently protect Otero Mesa Right now, The BLM is expected to move forward with a new plan to lease Otero Mesa - stakeholders expect the oil and gas companies to push for it.
What's at Stake: Grasslands are fragile ecosystems. Most of the grasslands in the Southwest have been ruined by poor land management practices over centuries, turning them into swaths of sagebrush and mesquite, much poorer in the number and kinds of biodiversity that can be supported. Perhaps because of its remote location, or maybe just luck, Otero Mesa survived this threat, spreading as the vast windswept home to over 1,000 native species, from showy pronghorn antelope to the delicate horned lark to the rare coralroot orchid. Grassland bird species that thrive on the Mesa, are the most endangered of all threatened avian species in North America, showing the greatest decline in recent years. Although this amazing area, tucked between the limestone canyons of the Brokeoff and Cornudas Mountains retained its remarkable web or life, suddenly, in the late 1990’s, Otero Mesa showed up in the crosshairs of oil and natural gas development.
On the other hand, the natural gas and fresh water resources in Otero Mesa represent enough energy and water to supply the entire state for more than 7 years. In addition, the development of the resource represents jobs for more than 10,000 New Mexican workers.
Rather than "either jobs or nature" , companies with advanced drilling technology could develop these resources (within 200 miles of major population centers) with less impact than allowing access to 4-wheelers and RVs.
NEW REPORTS (May 2010)
A final report compiled by a team from the Spring 2010 drilling class is linked below.