Nonprofit environmental group Campaign to Protect America’s Lands (CPAL) said last week that results from a survey of registered voters in New Mexico show that fewer than one in four, including less than half the registered Republicans, favor the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) plan to permit oil and gas drilling in the Otero Mesa region, which includes two counties, Otero and Sierra, in southern New Mexico.

The group earlier this year attacked the BLM’s plan saying that it favors Yates Petroleum and the Yates family, which donated $250,000 to GOP groups over the last three years, including $90,000 in soft money directly to the Republican National Committee. The company and BLM denied the allegations. BLM also said that no more than 5% of the disputed surface area, or 2,400 acres out of 1.1 million acres, will be disturbed.

CPAL favors an alternative proposal put forward by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who recently filed an appeal of the BLM action, which he said would threaten New Mexico’s groundwater and disrupt one of the largest remaining pieces of Chihuahuan desert grasslands in the state (see NGI, June 21, March 15).

CPAL said that according to the new survey conducted by the Albuquerque-based Research & Polling Inc. (RPI), Richardson’s own environmentally friendly counterproposal for Otero Mesa has the support of more than three out of five New Mexico voters (63%). The survey results came from telephone interviews in June with a random sample of 400 New Mexico registered voters.

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