Secretary Salazar, BLM Director Abbey Applaud Efforts of Potash/Oil and Gas Industry Working Group During New Mexico Visit



01/05/2012

Contact: Adam Fetcher (DOI) 202-208-6416
Donna Hummel (BLM) 505-954-2019

CARLSBAD, N.M.—Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, and Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey today toured a potash mine near Carlsbad, New Mexico and met with members of the Potash/Oil and Gas Industry Working Group during a visit to learn more about the ongoing dialogue between the oil and gas industry, potash industry and the BLM to promote concurrent, orderly, and safe mineral development within the Secretary’s Potash Area (SPA).

The Working Group, co-chaired by a Vice President from Intrepid Potash and a Vice President from BOPCO Oil Company, is part of a comprehensive strategy to overcome decades of disagreements and litigation between the two industries. The goal of the group is 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.

“I appreciate the Working Group’s efforts to tackle the complex issues in the SPA so that we can continue to support our nation’s agriculture and energy needs, and create jobs in New Mexico,” said Secretary Salazar. “With the two industries jointly working on the issues, I am confident that we can reach commonsense solutions that promote safe development of the resources.”

“Over the past few years, the oil and gas and potash industries have been working together to identify mutually agreeable areas for development,” said Senator Bingaman. “I look forward to continuing to work with both industries to preserve potash reserves while promoting the development of oil and gas resources in the region.”

During the meeting, the Working Group discussed issues associated with concurrent development within the SPA, including safety issues and special drilling techniques. Salazar, Bingaman, and Abbey also heard about a proposal to extract potash remaining in inactive underground mine workings through the use of solution mining methods.

“Collaboration between the BLM and leading stakeholders is the key to resolving potash-related issues,” said BLM Director Abbey. “I commend the Working Group for doing its utmost to find common ground for the common good.”

SPA accounts for 75 percent of domestic potash production and is home to almost 800 federal oil and gas leases. Potash is a trade name for potassium bearing minerals used for fertilizer.

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