Here’s some good news: Following up on their hearings about three weeks ago, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation issued a report stating that the Badger-Two Medicine region is inappropriate for energy development . . .
The Badger-Two Medicine area south of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation can’t be drilled for oil and gas development without ruining its cultural and traditional values, according to a report by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.
“They recommended cancellation of all the leases in the Badger-Two Medicine,” Blackfeet Tribal Historic Preservation Officer John Murray said Monday afternoon. “We’re grateful there’s hope in this world for people who’ve been marginalized, racially and economically. There’s a lot of hope from what’s in the report.”
The council’s analysis stated drilling plans by Louisiana-based Solenex LLC “would be so damaging to the (Traditional Cultural District) that the Blackfeet Tribe’s ability to practice their religious and cultural traditions in this area as a living part of their community life and development would be lost.”
There was a big turnout to oppose drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine region at the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation hearing in Choteau. Among many other groups and organizations, the NFPA had several representatives there . . .
A Sept. 2 meeting held by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in Choteau featured overwhelming support for the withdrawal of leases on the Badger-Two Medicine, an area with cultural and ecological linkages to the Blackfeet Nation and Glacier National Park.
In addition to the public testimony, letters of support for lease cancellation by Gov. Steve Bullock, the Glacier County Commissioners and seven former Glacier Park superintendents were submitted.
The meeting was the latest step by the Blackfeet tribe and a coalition of conservation organizations to interdict an exploratory oil well proposed by Louisiana-based Solenex LLC, which acquired the energy lease in 1982. The efforts to drill have long been delayed by legal challenges, and Solenex has filed a lawsuit arguing the delays have been unreasonable.
Here’s a report from NFPA president Debo Powers on yesterday’s meeting in Choteau concerning drilling leases in the Badger-Two Medicine . . .
On Wednesday, September 2, an independent federal agency called the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) traveled to Choteau, Montana to hear from the public about proposed oil and gas development in the Badger-Two Medicine. The hearing was preparation for the ACHP’s recommendation to the U.S. Forest Service concerning whether or not the impacts of drilling can be mitigated.
Three members of the North Fork Preservation Association traveled four hours each way to attend the public hearing and stand in solidarity with the Blackfeet Nation who say that the Badger-Two Medicine is sacred and central to their culture.
The large meeting room at the Stage Stop Inn was packed with both native and non-native Montanans who showed their support for cancellation of the leases. The testimony took two and a half hours with each speaker having 2 minutes to speak. The only person who spoke in favor of drilling was the attorney for the company who holds the leases.
One member of the ACHP told me afterwards that it was impressive to see the non-native support for native people and their culture. He commented that common interests can bring people together.
Here’s an important message from our friends at the Montana Wilderness Association for anyone concerned about the potential for drilling activities in the Badger-Two Medicine region. Note that Debo Powers (firstname.lastname@example.org) is organizing a car pool to attend the meeting in Choteau . . .
On September 2, 2015, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) travels to Choteau, Montana to hear from the public about proposed oil and gas development in the Badger-Two Medicine. ACHP is an independent federal agency that promotes the preservation, enhancement, and productive use of our nation’s historic resources. In this case, the council will advise the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) whether the negative impacts of proposed drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine can be mitigated to avoid damaging the Badger’s sacred, cultural, and historical values.
We have a very simple message for the ACHP: any development in the Badger-Two Medicine will bring irreparable damage. The only recommendation the ACHP can make for preventing damage and desecration to this sacred area is this: Cancel the illegal leases.
We need your help to make this message loud and clear to the ACHP.
The USFS must consider ACHP’s recommendation in making its final determination about oil and gas drilling in the Badger. If the ACHP tells the USFS that the agency should carefully consider lease cancellation because the impacts cannot be mitigated, it strongly bolsters the case we have been making – that lease cancellation is the only good option for the Badger. But if ACHP proposes that the development can somehow be mitigated to decrease damage to the cultural property, it leaves the door open for drilling across the Badger. Encouragingly, the USFS last week recognized, in its response to a U.S. District court order, that cancellation is an option the agency could pursue.
The ACHP needs to hear from all Montanans about why the Badger-Two Medicine is an invaluable piece of Blackfeet, Montana, and American history.
We’re asking people to attend the meeting in Choteau on Wednesday, September 2 or else submit a written comment to ACHP, or both.
The meeting takes place in Choteau on September 2 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Stage Stop Inn, 1005 Main Ave. North.
ANYONE WHO WOULD LIKE TO CARPOOL FROM THE NORTH FORK TO CHOTEAU ON SEPTEMBER 2 TO ATTEND THIS MEETING, PLEASE CONTACT DEBO AT email@example.com
If you would like to speak at the meeting, you can pre-register to do so by contacting Katry Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. People who have not pre-registered will be allowed to speak if time permits.
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
401 F Street, NW, Suite 308,
Washington, D.C. 20001-2637
All comments must be submitted by 3 p.m. (MST), September 4, 2015.
Here are some comment suggestions:
The Badger-Two Medicine area holds significant cultural and historical importance to the Blackfeet people, to the people of Montana, and to all citizens. Sacred lands should be protected from industrialization for posterity. What does the Badger mean to you and your family?
The Badger-Two Medicine is a living cultural landscape and an intact ecosystem. Its cultural value cannot be separated from its ecological integrity.
The ACHP should avoid making recommendations that suggest that the negative impacts of oil and gas exploration can be mitigated or avoided, because that is not possible.
The only option to avoid permanent damage to the Badger-Two Medicine is to not drill and to encourage the federal land managers to work together to cancel all of the remaining leases.
– Casey Perkins, MWA’s Rocky Mountain Front field director