Drilling overwhelms agency protecting America’s lands

CARLSBAD, N.M. — Wayne Smith was hardened to a certain level of chaos here, on land the American public owns. But even he was incredulous as he surveyed an area he leases for grazing, now cleared of grass and cluttered with above-ground pipelines, a drill pad for multiple wells and other oil and gas infrastructure. “I still pay a grazing lease right there,” Smith said in May, pointing to a government map showing there should be no more than 17 acres of development on the site instead of the 125 acres he saw in front of him. “Now, what’s my cow going to eat?”

This isn’t what’s supposed to happen on publicly owned land the federal government oversees. The Bureau of Land Management can lease the same property to more than one party at once, but if New Mexico ranchers request it — as Smith did — the agency has instructed its field offices to contact them before such a build-up occurs.

Out-of-state donors pour cash into Democrats’ state races

This story was co-published by USA Today. ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In New Mexico’s Statehouse, Jimmie Hall is something of a fixture: The veteran Republican representative has served District 28 in this sun-dried, high-desert city for seven terms.
For much of Hall’s tenure, the district, which lies along the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the eastern edge of Albuquerque, has been reliably conservative, so much so that he’s coasted to victory without having to face any Democratic opponent in his three most recent re-election bids. This story originally appeared at The Center for Public Integrity and is reprinted with permission. But this year is different. In November, Hall will square off against Melanie Stansbury, who is among a slew of young, progressive Democrats running for office at every level of government across the country.