From the Letter:
Dear Acting Director Seidlitz: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and in support of Articles 26, 27, 29 and 32 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the undersigned request that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) hold public hearings in conjunction with its proposed December 2018 oil and gas lease sale in New Mexico. Given the immense environmental controversy surrounding the agency’s proposed lease sale, as well as substantial public interest in holding hearings, the agency is required to hold such hearings prior to making any decision related to the December 2018 oil and gas lease sale.
In accordance with White House Council on Environmental Quality NEPA regulations, the BLM must “[m]ake diligent efforts to involve the public in preparing and implementing [its] NEPA procedures.” 40 C.F.R. § 1506.6(a). To this end, the BLM is obligated to “[h]old or sponsor public hearings or public meetings whenever appropriate[.]” Id. § 1506.6(c). It is appropriate to hold public hearings or meetings whenever there is “[s]ubstantial environmental controversy concerning the proposed action or substantial interest in holding the hearing.” Id. § 1506.6(c)(1). The agency’s duty to hold public hearings around its actions is also set forth in the BLM’s NEPA Handbook H-1790-1 at Section 6.9.1.