Drilling lease in Badger-Two Medicine must be reinstated, judge says

Drilling lease in Badger-Two Medicine must be reinstated, judge says

Proponents of keeping Badger-Two Medicine free from oil and gas development say the legal fight for the land is far from over. It comes after a federal judge last week reinstated a decades-old lease on the Blackfeet Nation’s hallowed land.

Washington DC District Court Judge Richard Leon ordered the US Department of the Interior to restore the Solenex lease in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, which was first released in the 1980s. The federal government canceled the lease six years ago saying it was issued illegally. Leon, in his decision, said the government had no power to overturn it.

The lease is on undeveloped land considered to be the cultural homeland of the Blackfeet Nation. Blackfoot Historic Preservation Officer John Murray is one of the parties in the case. He says, “The fight is far from over. The Badger-Two Medicine will remain as it is today.”

Courtesy of Montana Wilderness Association

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Courtesy of Montana Wilderness Association

A map showing the Solenex site and its surroundings.

The Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance also said in a statement that it would fight the decision, although the alliance and other groups have not yet said when they may appeal.

The Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represents leaseholder Solenex, said it would be prepared to defend the decision on appeal. The Interior Department declined to comment on the case.

The Solenex lease was one of more than 40 oil and gas leases that have been issued in Badger-Two Medicine and is the last remaining lease on this land. Others were voluntarily abandoned, canceled by the Ministry of the Interior. or retired through private institutions.


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