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Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Colorado

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The tribe earned high marks for reclamation efforts during a recent landowner-congressional tour of the Cedar Hill area. Oil and gas production is the lifeblood of the Four Corners area, providing well-paying jobs and attracting millions in capital investments. But some northwestern New Mexico ranchers say the industry's growth is damaging the environment. They say that damage is killing livestock and threatening their way of life. Oil and gas companies traditionally shared Bureau of Land Management lands with ranchers who graze livestock. Landowner Treciafaye 'Tweeti' Blancett said the good relations with the energy industry have deteriorated in the last decade. 'Pipelines are not reseeded, roads are built too wide without adequate drainage and surface spills are not being cleaned up.' At a gas pipeline owned by the tribe the area had been replanted with clover, sunflowers and native grasses. Blancett pointed out a pipeline owned by El Paso Natural Gas hadn't been reseeded. Cheat grass and musk thistles crept over the soil, making it unfit for grazing. An oil pit at another site was unlined. Another uncovered water tank held oil and ethylene glycol which can attract and kill animals. The BLM claims it has inadequate staff to keep up with the 500 wells being drilled every year.