Tag Archives: oil and gas development

Final oil & gas lease to be relinquished in Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine region

Badger-Two Medicine Region
Badger-Two Medicine Region

Finally! Solonex has given up the remaining oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region.

From the official USDA press release . . .

WASHINGTON – The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior today announced that, as part of a settlement with the sole remaining lessee, the final federal oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area will be relinquished. This significant milestone, decades in the making, will help ensure that the natural and cultural resources on the ancestral homelands of the Blackfeet Nation are protected.

“The Badger-Two Medicine area is a place of profound cultural and spiritual importance to the people of the Blackfeet Nation,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Today’s action will protect this land for this generation and generations to come, and serves as a marker of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to protecting treasured pieces of our national heritage like the Badger-Two Medicine area.”

“The Badger-Two Medicine area continues to have cultural and religious significance to the Blackfeet Nation, which has stewarded that land since time immemorial. Oil and gas development would have had irreparable impacts on these sacred homelands. Today’s action closes the chapter on development threats to this special place and recognizes the importance of protecting these lands for future generations,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “The Biden-Harris administration is committed to working with Tribes to protect Indigenous homelands and ensure the preservation of their natural and cultural resources.”

The Badger-Two Medicine area encompasses approximately 130,000 pristine acres in Lewis and Clark National Forest, adjacent to Glacier National Park, two wilderness areas, and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Badger-Two Medicine was once a part of the Reservation. Although it was ceded in 1896, the Badger-Two Medicine area continues to have cultural and religious significance to the Blackfeet Nation, which has consistently raised concerns about development in the area.



The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management issued 47 federal oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area in 1982, but an environmental impact statement was never prepared prior to the issuance of an application for permit to drill. This led to several years of litigation – and the cancellation of the lease in 2016 by then-Secretary Sally Jewell, followed by further litigation – during which time the lease remained suspended.

Congress permanently withdrew the entire area from oil and gas leasing, subject to valid existing rights, in 2006, providing tax incentives for existing lessees who voluntarily relinquished their leases. One remaining lessee did not voluntarily relinquish its lease until today’s settlement agreement.

In 2002, a portion of the Badger-Two Medicine area was established as a Traditional Cultural District, and in 2014, based on additional documentation provided by the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service, that area was expanded to encompass approximately 165,000 acres, including the lands covered by the leases.

Feds to ease land restrictions meant to protect sage grouse

Sage Grouse - BLM photo
Sage Grouse – BLM photo

Looks like the U.S. aims to ease the painstakingly developed oil and gas development regulations designed to protect sage grouse populations . . .

The Trump administration is finalizing plans to ease restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other industries that were meant to protect an imperiled bird species that ranges across the American West, federal officials said Thursday.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management Acting Director Brian Steed told The Associated Press the changes would protect greater sage grouse while addressing concerns that existing policies governing millions of acres of federal land were too restrictive.

Critics say the changes will lead to more disturbances of grouse habitat, undermining efforts to shore up the bird’s population.

Read more . . .

Feds & environmental groups reach tentative deal over oil & gas lease emissions

Oil and gas development at Colorado's Roan Plateau. Photo by Ecoflight.
Oil and gas development at Colorado’s Roan Plateau. Photo by Ecoflight.

Conservation groups are leaning on the feds over the need to control methane emissions as part of energy development . . .

Environmental groups and the U.S. government reached a tentative agreement to end a dispute over greenhouse gas emissions from federal oil and gas leases in Montana.

Attorneys for the Department of Justice and the environmentalists filed notice in federal court Friday that they have a settlement in principle over a lawsuit that pushes the government to examine the effects on climate change when leasing public lands for energy drilling. They hope to finalize the deal within the month.

The groups say the government should require companies to use technology that would reduce climate-changing methane emissions as a condition of their leases. Better oversight and technology use could cut 40 percent of the methane now lost due to leaking pipes, venting excess gas and exhaust from drilling, processing and transporting the oil and gas, according to the Montana Environmental Information Center, WildEarth Guardians and Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project.

Read more . . .

Timeline submitted for decision on Badger-Two Medicine drilling leases

Two Medicine Lake
Two Medicine Lake – Flikr User Phil’s Pixels

The feds have decided to make a decision about energy leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region. By November 30, they will either commence to cancel the leases …or not.

This would be funny if the consequences weren’t so serious. Just read the darn article while I go bang my head on my desk . . .

Public land managers have submitted a court-ordered schedule framing the steps they’ll take to either lift a suspension of oil and gas drilling on a prized and culturally sacred landscape adjacent to Glacier National Park or cancel the energy leases outright.

In setting the schedule, federal land managers for the first time are considering the dissolution of energy leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area as an option to settle a dispute over whether they were granted illegally, as leaders of the Blackfeet Nation contend. The Badger-Two Medicine is home to the Blackfeet creation story and is at the center of a hard-fought legal battle, with the lease-holder calling for the drilling suspension to be lifted on one side and a vast coalition of tribes, conservation groups and Montana politicians urging permanent protection on the other.

The timeline to resolve the decades-old suspension of an energy lease in the Badger-Two Medicine was drafted after a federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to draft a schedule for the agencies to complete their review.

Read more . . .

Badger-Two Medicine: “Too wild to drill”

Two Medicine Lake
Two Medicine Lake – Flikr User Phil’s Pixels

The Wilderness Society weighs in on the issue of drilling leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .

As the Blackfeet Nation’s leaders ramp up efforts to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area near Glacier National Park from oil and gas development, a nationwide conservation group has issued a report singling out the sacred region as a top priority for environmental safeguards.

The Wilderness Society’s 2015 edition of “Too Wild to Drill,” which identifies places the group believes should be off limits to energy development, featured the Badger-Two Medicine among three other lands deserving protection, including Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado’s Thompson Divide and Grand Junction region and Utah’s Bears Ears and lands near Desolation Canyon.

Flanked on the northwest by Glacier National Park, on the east by the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and on the south by the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness, the 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine is central to the cultural identity of the Blackfeet.

Read more . . .

Blackfeet ramp up efforts to protect Badger-Two Medicine

The Blackfeet tribe is keeping up the pressure to remove the remaining oil and gas exploration lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .

The Blackfeet Nation’s leaders are ramping up efforts to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area near Glacier National Park, and recently highlighted the cultural, spiritual and ecological significance of a region threatened by oil and gas development.

On June 26, members of the Blackfeet Nation launched the most recent phase of a campaign to rally support for the area, with the aim of terminating 18 oil leases within the Badger-Two Medicine. The mountainous area, located between the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, is a cornerstone of the tribe’s creation story, a spiritual nexus known as the “Backbone of the World” and a pristine, untapped ecosystem home to grizzly bears and other wildlife.

To celebrate the area, the tribe hosted Badger-Two Medicine Days, which among other Blackfeet traditions featured an all-night “holy smoke” ceremony led by spiritual elders, with the goal of warding off oil and gas development, said Tyson Running Wolf, secretary of the Blackfeet Business Council.

Read more . . .

Judge demands explanation for energy lease delays

There’s no court decision yet on the Solonex energy leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region, but the judge is annoyed at the feds . . .

A federal judge is pressing U.S. officials to explain why it’s taken three decades to decide on a proposal to drill for natural gas just outside Glacier National Park in an area considered sacred by some Indian tribes in Montana and Canada.

A frustrated U.S. District Judge Richard Leon called the delay “troubling” and a “nightmare” during a recent court hearing. He ordered the Interior and Agriculture departments to report back to him with any other example of where they have “dragged their feet” for so long.

Read more . . .

Court hearing today on drilling in Badger-Two Medicine

Two Medicine Lake
Two Medicine Lake – Flikr User Phil’s Pixels

As expected, Solonex is in court playing hardball over their old oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .

A federal judge is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday over whether a Louisiana company should be allowed to drill for natural gas on a longstanding lease near Glacier National Park that’s on land considered sacred to the Blackfeet Indians.

The 6,200-acre lease was suspended by federal officials in the 1990s along with dozens of others in the Badger-Two Medicine area south of Glacier.

Owner Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, filed a 2013 lawsuit to lift the suspension on the lease issued in 1982. The company wants U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C., to decide the case so it can drill this summer.

Read more . . .

Tester urges feds to cancel oil & gas leases in Badger-Two Medicine

Sen. Jon Tester is joining the chorus asking for cancellation of oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area . . .

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has joined Blackfeet tribal leaders in their efforts to have all federal oil and gas exploration leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area next to their reservation canceled.

In a letter Friday to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the Montana Democrat said he agreed with the Blackfeet Tribe that Jewell and Vilsack’s departments “clearly have not just the moral obligation but also the legal authority to cancel all existing leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area.”

Tester visited the Blackfeet Reservation earlier this month and discussed the issue with tribal leaders. They maintain that 47 leases in the 165,000-acre area were illegally granted by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service in 1982.

Read more . . .

Blackfoot Confederacy asks feds to halt leases in Badger-Two Medicine

The Blackfeet Confederacy has opened a new front in the battle to protect the Badger-Two Medicine region from oil and gas development . . .

In a sign of cultural and political solidarity, tribal chiefs and leaders representing the Blackfoot Confederacy convened Friday to sign a proclamation to end energy development in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine area.

The Confederacy added its voice to an unprecedented alliance of American Indian tribal nations calling on the federal government to resolve decades of wrongdoing by public land managers, and to once and for all protect the Badger-Two Medicine from private industrialization.

Tribes from Montana, Wyoming and the Canadian province of Alberta have issued joint proclamations, insisting that the U.S. Department of Interior cancel illegal oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area.

Read more . . .