WildEarth Guardians

A Force for Nature

Select Page

Current work in wildlife, rivers, public lands, and climate

Press Releases

Groups Target Revolving Door Between Government and Oil and Gas Industry in New Mexico

July 22, 2010
Jeremy Nichols (303) 573-4898 x1303
In This Release
Climate + Energy  

Thursday, July 22, 2010
Groups Target Revolving Door Between Government and Oil and Gas Industry in New Mexico

Interior Secretary Salazar Called on to Rein in Former Farmington Field Manager for Bureau of Land Management Turned top New Mexico Oil and Gas Lobbyist
Contact: Jeremy Nichols (303) 573-4898 x1303

Farmington, NM-A coalition of environmental and tribal groups today called on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey to restore public trust and confront conflict of interest in the wake of former BLM Farmington Field Manager Steve Henke’s sudden hiring as President of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

“Less than a month after leaving BLM, Steve Henke is now top oil and gas industry lobbyist in New Mexico,” said Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico Energy Coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance. “As a former steward of our public lands and resources as Field Manager of the BLM Farmington Office, Mr. Henke clearly should be restricted from working directly with BLM offices in New Mexico for a minimum of two years. NMOGA should have given more thought to the ethical implications of hiring Henke to lobby BLM.”

In a letter to Salazar and Abbey today, the groups called on the officials to bar the BLM in New Mexico from interacting with Henke for at least two years, to launch an ethics review of his position, and to launch an investigation into his past decisions regarding oil and gas development to ensure they were not influenced by oil and gas industry interests.

“This takes trust in the BLM to a new low,” said Lori Goodman of Diné Citizens Against Ruining our Environment. “Given that Steve Henke, as Farmington Field Manager, was responsible for protecting tribal interests, this is a slap in the face to those of us who have been working to instill balance in energy development in the region”

As Farmington Field Manager, Steve Henke oversaw one of the most significant increases in oil and gas drilling experienced by any other BLM office, authorizing the drilling of more than 10,000 new oil and gas wells. The Farmington Field Office was specifically criticized by the Government Accountability Office for fast-tracking drilling permits at the expense of environmental oversight.

“It doesn’t matter how you look at this, it just doesn’t look good,” said Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director with WildEarth Guardians. “In light of the mounting environmental and cultural impacts facing the region, Steve Henke’s appearance as the lead lobbyist for NMOGA should rightfully preclude his lobbying efforts to BLM for NMOGA.