Oh, boy. A property rights lawyer with significant connections to Solonex just got appointed as Deputy Director of Policy and Programs for the Bureau of Land Management, We’re talking a major, let the fox guard the henhouse, conflict of interest in the ongoing lawsuit over oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine . . .
An attorney for an oil company that is suing the federal government to drill for oil and gas in the Badger-Two Medicine region just south of Glacier National Park was recently named Deputy Director of Policy and Programs for the Bureau of Land Management, drawing charges that there’s a clear conflict of interest in the case.
William Perry Pendley, was a longtime attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represents the Solonex Corp.
As of 2018, Pendley was listed as the attorney of record for Solonex, though the Foundation’s website no longer lists him as an attorney with the organization and his BLM profile makes no mention that he long argued cases for the Foundation.
This is likely not as bad as it sounds. The feds are going to dig in and fight the Solonex lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region. The Moncrief lease doesn’t even have a permit to drill and would require a huge battle just to get past that step. I’d guess the government made the pragmatic determination to concentrate their resources on the larger threat. If they win against Solonex, the Moncrief lease is probably toast, too.
Anyway, here’s the write-up . . .
In a dramatic change of course, attorneys representing the U.S. Department of the Interior filed paperwork announcing they will not defend the cancellation of one of the last remaining oil and gas leases on the 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine, an area flanking Glacier National Park that holds cultural and ecological significance to members of the Blackfeet Nation.
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a Whitefish native, had previously said he would defend the lease cancellations.
While members of the Blackfeet Nation expressed disappointment and frustration in the Interior’s decision not to fight an appeal by lease-owner W.A. Moncrief Jr, the Interior Department is expected to defend the cancellation of a second lease held by Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge, which is also being fought on appeal.
The U.S. Department of the Interior came through on their promises and filed a notice of appeal in the legal dispute over gas and oil drilling leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .
Attorneys representing the U.S. Department of the Interior, tribal and environmental groups Tuesday filed a notice of appeal challenging a federal judge’s decision to reinstate the last remaining oil and gas leases on the Badger-Two Medicine, an area flanking Glacier National Park that holds cultural and ecological significance to members of the Blackfeet Nation.
The filings in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia come just days before the Nov. 23 deadline, and preserve the government’s right to appeal Judge Richard J. Leon’s Sept. 24 order overturning the 2016 cancellation of leases held by Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and W.A. Moncrief Jr. in the Badger-Two Medicine area, a 130,000-acre swath of land between Glacier, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
The leases were originally canceled by the Interior Department under President Barack Obama, but Leon ruled that action was improper.
Everyone can stop holding their collective breath. The feds are indeed going to fight reinstatement of oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .
The Trump administration plans to appeal a federal court ruling that would allow oil and gas drilling on land considered sacred to Native American tribes in Montana and Canada, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Tuesday.
Zinke said it would be inappropriate to allow drilling in northwestern Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine area, site of the creation story for the Blackfoot tribes. He’s asked government attorneys to appeal a September ruling that reinstated a nearly 10-square-mile (26-square-kilometer) oil and gas lease in the area bordering the Blackfeet Reservation and Glacier National Park.
The lease had been cancelled under President Barack Obama at the urging of the tribes and environmentalists before it was reinstated by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.
Here’s one of the more elegant of the recent crop of op-eds encouraging Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to appeal a recent court decision to restore oil and gas leases to the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .
Today, Native Americans serve in the U.S. military at the highest rate per capita of any ethnic or cultural population, and Montana is home to more than 6,000 tribal veterans, many of them Blackfeet. As a Pikuni (or Blackfeet) warrior and veteran of the United States Marines, it is my duty and obligation to protect my country and lands, as well as to uphold the tribe’s traditions and culture while safeguarding its natural resources for future generations.
Recently a Washington, D.C. District Court reversed the government’s decision to cancel decades-old leases in the Badger-Two Medicine, an area sacred to the Blackfeet and the source of clean water for our Tribe. Once again, we find ourselves fighting against the threat of oil and gas development. As Veterans Day approaches, I am joined by the Blackfeet men and women of the Armed Forces in asking Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke to defend the Badger-Two Medicine.
It’s spring and time for the next chapter of the legal dispute over the Solonex oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .
The legal dispute over possible oil and gas drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine area advanced Wednesday.
The case centers on a roughly 6,200-acre mineral lease there, held by Louisiana-based firm Solenex. The firm’s owner, Sidney Longwell, acquired the lease in 1982. But as he sought approval to drill, he drew greater opposition from enviornmental groups and the Blackfeet Nation, whose reservation abuts Badger-Two Medicine. In 2016, then-secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell concluded that the lease had been improperly issued and canceled it altogether.
Solenex amended a lawsuit it already had pending against Jewell, claiming that she had acted improperly in that decision. In the hearing Wednesday, the sides presented their arguments for summary judgment before Judge Richard Leon in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has proposed making the Badger-Two Medicine region a national monument. Given the Trump administration’s recent attempts drastically to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, Blackfeet tribal representatives are understandably wary . . .
Even as it clashes with American Indians over reductions to national monuments in the Southwest, the Trump administration is pursuing creation of a new monument on the border of a Montana reservation where tribal officials remain wary of the idea.
The Blackfeet Indian Tribe has long fought oil and gas drilling and other development within the Badger-Two Medicine area — a mountainous expanse bordering Glacier National Park that’s sacred to the tribe.
Blackfeet Chairman Harry Barnes told The Associated Press that protection of that 200-square-mile (518-square-kilometer) area is paramount. He sees a “workable solution” in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s proposal to co-manage the area with the tribe, but stressed that the Blackfeet have never sought a national monument designation for the land.
Well now, this is interesting. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke reportedly suggested the Badger-Two Medicine area be given national monument status . . .
Back in March, nine days into his new post as Interior Department secretary, Ryan Zinke accepted a blessing ceremony from Blackfeet tribal leaders, and heard their request to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area next to their reservation by Glacier National Park.
On Sunday, a leaked draft of Zinke’s report to President Donald Trump on revisions to national monument indicates he proposes to grant that wish.
On the next-to-last page of a 19-page memo advising Trump to amend the boundaries and management plans of 10 national monuments, Zinke suggested the creation of three new monuments:
the Union Army Camp Nelson training center for African-American soldiers in the Civil War in Kentucky,
the home of assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi.
A prominent Texas oilman has filed a lawsuit against the federal government alleging it illegally canceled his oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region near Glacier National Park and is seeking to reinstate his right to extract mineral resources in an area considered culturally sacred by the Blackfeet Tribe.
The lawsuit, filed April 3 in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, names as plaintiff the billionaire oilman W.A. Moncrief Jr., president of one of the nation’s largest family-owned oil and gas businesses. It names as defendants the U.S. Department of the Interior and Jamie Connell, state director of the Montana-Dakotas Office of the Bureau of Land Management.
The legal dispute comes on the heels of the Obama administration’s historic decision in January to cancel the final two remaining leases on the Badger-Two Medicine, marking a hard-fought victory for members of the Blackfeet Nation who have worked to jettison a host of energy leases from their sacred homeland for three decades.
Here’s a bit more information on last Tuesday’s announcement of the cancellation of the last two oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .
The U.S. Department of the Interior announced the Bureau of Land Management has canceled the final two oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area within the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Northwest Montana.
The two lease cancellations address outstanding concerns about the potential for oil and gas development in this culturally and ecologically important area. The cancellations come on the heels of U.S. officials cancelling other 15 oil and gas leases in the area.
“We are proud to have worked alongside the Blackfeet Nation and the U.S. Forest Service throughout this process to roll back decades-old leases and reinforce the importance of developing resources in the right way and the right places.” said Secretary Sally Jewell. “The cancellation of the final two leases in the rich cultural and natural Badger-Two Medicine Area will ensure it is protected for future generations.”