Feds OK Drilling in NM Grasslands Despite Governor's Pleas

Here is the :( story of the day, from the department of "Mr. President, leave my goddamned planet alone," George W. has given the go-ahead to drill for oil in a rare desert grassland in New Mexico, overriding the desire of the state's governor, who, by the way, used to be the Secretary of Energy during the Clinton administration. The new plan will allow 141 exploratory wells to be dug on 2 million acres of land. And get this: Of the 100 wells in New Mexico that have been drilled in the last CENTURY, ONLY TWO have produced oil or gas... (Yes, our voices are raised!) Plus, the state Bureau of Land Management rates the mesa's oil production potential as low to moderate, or, as one official put it, "We're talking about destroying the largest remaining desert grasslands in America for at best a few days worth of oil and gas. That is shortsighted." Word, brother.

Groundwater, the preservation of grazing land, and wildlife are all at risk, including the habitat of the endangered Aplomado falcon (36,000 acres will be set aside for the bird), herds of pronghorn antelope, migratory songbirds and loads of Indian petroglyphs. Otero Mesa, the place to be drilled, has been found to be the largest source of untapped groundwater in New Mexico, so it's no wonder that opponents are up in arms about the quantity to be used for oil and gas production, not to mention the poor quality of water returned after it is used, which can be contaminated with saline or petroleum byproducts.

We at TreeHugger understand that we still need oil for a variety of reasons, but all we're saying is that there's gotta be a better way kids. Let's invest some of that time, energy, and money into new, clean sources of energy. Via ::State of Mind ::Yahoo! News/LATimes.com [by MO]