Potash is a trade name for potassium bearing minerals used for fertilizer. Portions of the Permian Basin in southeast New Mexico bear silts and sands that are rich in deposits of potash, as well as oil and gas. This unique geology led to the creation of the Secretary’s Potash Area (SPA), established by Secretarial Order in 1939.
Initially, the SPA withdrew approximately 43,000 acres from oil and gas leasing and development for the express purpose of protecting potash. In 1951, the SPA was expanded and the management policy was changed to one of concurrent development by the oil and gas, and potash industries. Today, the SPA covers a total area of 497,630 acres and includes 350,617 acres of BLM managed surface and operates under concurrent development of both oil and gas and potash resources. The SPA currently produces 75 percent of the potash mined in the United State and is also home to nearly 800 Federal oil and gas leases.
Recently, a comprehensive strategy to overcome decades of disagreements and litigation was agreed to through a consensus document between the oil & gas and potash industries. With representatives of both industries working together, relationships between the industries have improved, scientific discussions of the issues have begun, and new ideas have been identified for the orderly development of potash and oil and gas in the SPA.