A May 5 deadline to determine whether to postpone an oil and gas lease sale on sacred land near Chaco Canyon passed without a decision, and agency officials said there’s some leeway on a final verdict.
“May 5 was more of our target date,” said Lisa Morrison, a deputy chief of communications for the Bureau of Land Management’s New Mexico office. “There’s no law that tells us we need to decide by that date, so we can adjust if we need to.”
Three potential lease sales, totaling 2,122-acres in New Mexico, slated for October has riled conservation groups, which claim oil and gas operations would destroy a “treasured landscape.”
In March, a BLM project manager accidentally left a voicemail announcing a deferral of the sale to a later date, forcing the agency to backtrack once word hit the media.
“It’s unfortunate, and I totally understand if they have a voicemail saying it’s a done deal, but we need to accept that it was a mistake,” said spokeswoman Donna Hummel at that time.
Morrison said a decision could be made at any time, which would be posted to the BLM’s website and sent out in a news release.