Environmental Rights Group Sues to Protect Carlsbad Caverns from Oil and Gas Development

A vast New Mexico oilfield lies near Carlsbad Caverns National Park, a region comprised of deserts and caves. The federal government recently has allowed substantial oil and gas development in this area. This may affect the stability of the terrain and the air quality near the national park, according to WildEarth Guardians. This environmentalist group has filed a lawsuit in federal court, challenging the actions of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Over the last two years, the BLM has issued over 200 leases for the area, known as the Permian Basin. The oil and gas industry thus has plunged substantial resources into developing this slice of southeastern New Mexico and western Texas. While the Trump administration has encouraged oil and gas drilling as a matter of policy, WildEarth Guardians argues that these actions violate the environmental laws and regulations that apply to the BLM.

This case is not the first time that a dispute has arisen over oil and gas drilling permitted by the federal government. A court in Montana found that the federal government failed to adequately account for the impact of emissions when it allowed the development of federal land. Meanwhile, a court in Wyoming halted oil and gas drilling across a broad expanse of the state. This court determined that the federal government had failed to consider climate change before making decisions to issue leases.

WildEarth Guardians is not the only organization that is committed to protecting the distinctive landscape and wildlife in Carlsbad Caverns. The National Parks Conservation Association has joined other groups in urging the BLM to develop a more coherent strategy for development in the Permian Basin.

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