- Associated Press - Friday, April 7, 2017

ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) - A federal agency says it will give New Mexico its payment for an oil and gas lease sale now that it has responded to environmental concerns.

A U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman said Thursday that the state can expect its nearly $70 million payment by June 1, as scheduled, or earlier, The Roswell Daily News reported (https://bit.ly/2oMXMbH ).

The agency has finishing reviewing two extensive written protests by environmental groups based in Santa Fe and Arizona, BLM spokeswoman Donna Hummel said. She said that the agency reviews all materials that come to them during a protest and takes them seriously.

“We feel confident. I think there’s a likelihood it could even be before June 1, but we’re feeling 99 percent confident by June 1 the state will have their money and the federal treasury will have the remaining lease payments,” Hummel said. “We are getting really close. We appreciate the state and the federal treasury’s patience…. We don’t make a decision ahead of the analysis. It just took a long time this time.”

The auction was made in Roswell last September. Hummel had previously said there was no guarantee New Mexico would receive full payment by the set date while the agency finished reviewing the protests.

State lawmakers turned to New Mexico’s congressional delegation to help pressure the BLM into making the payment by June to avoid finishing the current fiscal year with negative reserves.

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Information from: Roswell Daily Record, https://www.roswell-record.com

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