As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced a draft Secretarial Order to promote the co-development of oil and gas and potash resources within the Secretary's Potash Area (SPA) in southeast New Mexico.
Secretary Salazar unveiled the draft Secretarial Order -- which reflects the collaborative work of leaders in both the potash and oil and gas industries -- with U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Acting Director Mike Pool. The proposal will now be available for comment from industry and members of the public.
"It's important that we end years of costly litigation and disagreement and together start a new chapter of collaboration when it comes to oil and gas and potash development in New Mexico," said Salazar, who praised the leadership of representatives of the oil and gas and potash industries who helped forge the draft proposal. "What we're proposing today is a commonsense framework that emphasizes the co-development of potash and oil and gas in the region, and strengthens the economy by continuing to support our nation's energy and agriculture needs."
"This resolution is good step forward for southeastern New Mexico. I'm glad the parties were able to come together on a draft order that would bolster both our state's potash industry and our oil and gas industry, and I am looking forward to any further suggestions for improvement that might come from the public and industry," said Bingaman, who as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has been active for years in seeking a resolution to this issue.
"I applaud Secretary Salazar, the BLM, and members from the oil, gas and potash industries for coming together to lay the foundation for a productive working relationship," said Udall. "Our state does it all when it comes to energy production, and the responsible co-development of these natural resources is key to both job creation in our southeast region and the energy security of our nation."
On January 5, 2012, Salazar met with the Potash/Oil and Gas Joint Industry Technical Committee (JITC) in Carlsbad, New Mexico to support the ongoing dialogue between representatives from the oil and gas, and potash industries. The JITC has been working collaboratively to improve the relationship between the industries, to promote a healthy discussion of the issues, and provide direction towards co-development of the SPA, an area rich in both potash and oil and gas minerals.
Since January, members of the JITC have provided comments on the draft Secretarial Order, which is designed to encourage regular, constructive discussion among the industries and the BLM, as well a framework to jointly address any concerns that arise in specific situations. The draft Order includes buffer zones between oil and gas wells and potash mining operations designed to enhance safety protections for miners, as well as to conserve the resources.
"We welcome comment from the public and industry on the draft Secretarial Order as we work together to meet our nation's domestic energy needs. This is an important milestone and I want to thank Secretary Salazar for his leadership on this issue," said Acting Director Mike Pool.
The SPA contains deposits of both potash and oil and gas on more than 400,000 acres of land, most of which is managed by the BLM. The SPA currently produces 75 percent of the potash mined in the United State and is also home to nearly 800 Federal oil and gas leases. Potash is the common name for potassium bearing minerals, primarily used for fertilizer.
The draft Order will be published in the Federal Register and open to a 30-day public comment period beginning July 13, 2012. All comments will be considered in the final rule, which is expected to be completed later this year.
The draft Order will be available for review www.blm.gov/nm