Interior Secretary bans new mining and oil and gas exploration on some New Mexico land


By signing a document during a recent ceremony, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland just banned mining and oil and gas drilling on more than 4,200 acres of land in New Mexico.

The land in question is just northwest of the city of Albuquerque and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management in an area called Placitas.

The final mineral withdrawal protects, preserves, and promotes the scenic integrity, cultural importance, recreational values and wildlife habitat connectivity of the lands and the surrounding area. The lands will be closed to new mining claims, mineral sales, and oil and gas leases for the next 50 years, subject to valid existing rights.

“Indigenous communities have called the Placitas area home since time immemorial, with evidence of their presence found from nearly every settlement period of the past 10,000 years,” said Secretary Deb Haaland.

The former New Mexico congresswoman said the site includes significant cultural ties to neighboring Pueblos and provides outdoor recreation opportunities to the local community.

The Pueblos of San Felipe and Santa Ana have long sought protections for the Placitas area, which they consider ancestral and sacred lands. The site, located near the Albuquerque metro area, also provides close-to-home outdoor recreation opportunities and is popular for hiking, camping, sightseeing and hunting.

The Interior Department first announced these proposed protections in September 2023, which began an initial 90-day public comment period that included a public meeting. A second 30-day comment period was held by the BLM in February 2024 to collect additional input from interested parties and affected stakeholders.

Source: DOI release