Our friends on the other side of the Divide are not happy about an oil exploration threat to the the Badger-Two Medicine area . . .
Several environmental groups have petitioned to intervene in a legal battle over a disputed oil and gas claim in the Badger-Two Medicine area about two miles southeast of Glacier National Park.
Solonex, a Louisiana-based oil and gas company sued the Forest Service and the Department of Interior claiming it has been illegally prevented from exploring about 6,200 acres of land it leases for oil and gas. Solonex obtained the leases in 1982, but over the years the government continually delayed exploration.In 1998, the government suspended exploration activities there indefinitely. Solonex, which is owned by Sidney Longwell, claims this is a violation of federal law. Congress can allow delays but can’t suspend activities on leased lands indefinitely, Solonex claims.
Late last month, the Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, based in Browning, and the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, headquartered in East Glacier, applied for intervenor status in the lawsuit. The National Parks Conservation Association, Montana Wilderness Association and the Wilderness Society also filed for intervenor status.
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The voluntary fracking standards just established for the Northeast will likely have a “halo effect” on fracking elsewhere in the country. In fact, this may very well have been a factor in Anschutz Exploration’s recent decision to halt exploratory drilling on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation just east of the Continental Divide . . .
Some of the nation’s biggest oil and gas companies have made peace with environmentalists, agreeing to a voluntary set of tough new standards for fracking in the Northeast that could lead to a major expansion of drilling.
The program announced Wednesday [March 20] will work a lot like Underwriters Laboratories, which puts its familiar UL seal of approval on electrical appliances that meet its standards.
In this case, drilling and pipeline companies will be encouraged to submit to an independent review of their operations. If they are found to be abiding by a list of stringent measures to protect the air and water from pollution, they will receive the blessing of the new Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale Development, created by environmentalists and the energy industry.
Many of the new standards appear to be stricter than state and federal regulations.
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Land and wildlife managers are keeping an eye on the impact of oil and gas development on the Rock Mountain Front . . .
An interagency panel of land and wildlife managers has turned its attention to the impacts on grizzly bears from oil-and-gas exploration and extraction on the Rocky Mountain Front.
The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem Subcommittee is geared toward delisting the grizzly bear population, with a draft Conservation Strategy for doing so expected to be released this summer.
But removing the threatened Northern Rockies grizzly bear population from protection under the Endangered Species Act is still “several years out,” said Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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