Tag Archives: oil and gas drilling

Trump administration wants to ease drilling restrictions protecting sage grouse

Sage Grouse - BLM photo
Sage Grouse – BLM photo

Uh, oh. The Trump administration is proposing the relaxation of drilling restrictions intended to protect sage grouse populations and keep the bird from landing on the Endangered Species List . . .

The Trump administration moved forward Thursday with plans to ease restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling and other activities across millions of acres in the American West that were put in place to protect an imperiled bird species.

Land management documents released by the U.S. Interior Department show the administration intends to open more public lands to leasing and allow waivers for drilling to encroach into the habitat of greater sage grouse.

Critics warned the changes could wipe out grouse colonies as drilling disrupts breeding grounds. Federal officials under President Barack Obama in 2015 had adopted a sweeping set of land use restrictions intended to benefit the birds.

Read more . . .

Former Glacier Park supers want drilling leases cancelled

Badger-Two Medicine Region

A group of former Glacier Park superintendents want the Badger-Two Medicine drilling leases canceled . . .

If one were to hike in the Badger-Two Medicine region of the Lewis and Clark National Forest right now, they’d likely come upon a sign warning of a grizzly bear prowling in the Sawmill Flats area. The sign is not unusual. The 160,000 acre region on the Lewis and Clark National Forest is not wilderness and isn’t Park Service land, but it is no less wild.

Six retired Glacier Park superintendents want the Department of Interior to keep it that way. In a letter to the Hungry Horse News and other newspapers across the state, they’re asking the Department of Interior to cancel oil and gas leases in the Badger Two Medicine as an energy company pursues legal action to drill exploratory wells on a 3,000-plus acre tract in Hall Creek.

“Industrial energy development of this world-class resource would represent an intolerable assault to the ecological and cultural values of Glacier National Park, as well as to the Blackfeet people,” the superintendents argue. “On behalf of the millions of visitors who cherish the Crown of the Continent, and on behalf of our colleagues whose careers were spent working for the best interests of Glacier National Park, we ask the Department of Interior to exercise its authority to cancel the Badger-Two Medicine leases.”

Read more . . .

Also read: Letter to the editor from regarding drilling in Badger-Two Medicine region

Judge wants Badger-Two Medicine drilling decision by Thanksgiving

Two Medicine Lake

Federal officials were told to make a decision on canceling drilling leases in the Badger-Two Medicine before they sit down for their Thanksgiving dinners . . .

A federal judge wants the government to speed up its consideration of a long-stalled drilling proposal near Glacier National Park that’s on land sacred to American Indians in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ordered the Interior Department to decide by Nov. 23 whether to start the process of canceling the energy lease at issue, or move to lift a suspension on drilling.

Louisiana-based Solenex LLC sued the government in 2013, challenging the three-decade suspension.

Read more . . .

Federal panel says Badger-Two Medicine too special to drill

Two Medicine Lake

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.”

Read more . . .

Also read: Panel recommends canceling drilling lease near Glacier (Missoulian)

Frank Vitale: Badger-Two Medicine is no place to drill

Frank Vitale says his piece
Frank Vitale

NFPA member Frank Vitale has a nice op-ed in today’s Daily Inter Lake concerning drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .

The Blackfeet call it “Mistakis,” the Backbone of the World. The Continental Divide snakes its way through this land also known as the Badger-Two Medicine. It is the cornerstone of the Blackfeet creation story.

I have ridden, hiked and hunted through this area and know it well. It is some of the wildest country in the Northern Rockies. It lies between Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Great Bear Wilderness. It is one of the largest unprotected roadless areas in the state at 165,588 acres.

The Badger-Two Medicine is a rugged, remote, pristine ecosystem that’s home to grizzlies and black bears, wolves, mountain lions, wolverines and lynx. Moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer and whitetail deer and one of the largest herds of elk on the northern Rocky Mountain Front (numbering around 800 head) also live here. Its cold rivers and streams support some of the last pure populations of westslope cutthroat trout east of the Continental Divide.

The Badger and Two Medicine rivers spill out on the high prairies. Life zones range from the alpine and montane forests to short-grass prairies where grizzlies and antelope intermix.

This is not a place to drill for oil or gas. No mitigation can avoid the negative impacts of oil and gas exploration in this sacred and wild land.

Montana orders sage grouse conservation plan

Sage Grouse
Sage Grouse

Montana enacts a sage grouse conservation plan without waiting for the feds . . .

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has ordered state agencies to enact a program to conserve greater sage grouse populations by the start of next year as federal officials consider whether more sweeping protections are needed.

The order issued Tuesday follows on a 2014 grouse conservation plan that places some restrictions on oil and gas drilling and other activities blamed for driving down sage grouse numbers.

Critics of the state plan say it has too many loopholes allowing companies to get around the restrictions.

Read more . . .