Well, now. This is good news. Moncrief Oil relinquished their drilling lease in the The Badger-Two Medicine region Tuesday, leaving only one, stubborn holdout: Solonex . . .
Leaders of the Blackfeet Nation on Tuesday celebrated another victory in their mission to furnish permanent protections on the sacred Badger-Two Medicine area after Moncrief Oil relinquished an energy lease spanning more than 7,000 acres along the Rocky Mountain Front.
With the announcement of the relinquishment of Moncrief’s lease, there remains only one oil and gas leaseholder in the Badger Two Medicine area, Solenex LLC. The company’s 6,200-acre lease was cancelled by the government in 2016, but reinstated in 2018 after the D.C. District Court ruled in favor of Solenex. The case is currently in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
Still, the news on Tuesday prompted an outpouring of gratitude from members of the Blackfeet Nation, for whom the Badger-Two Medicine carries deep historical and cultural significance, as well as from conservation groups intent on preserving the area’s ecological heritage.
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.
A D.C. District Court judge reinstated a set of disputed oil leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region. The saga continues. Expect an appeal . . .
The government’s decision to cancel an oil and gas lease in the Badger-T
wo Medicine area of Montana was “arbitrary and capricious” and the lease should be reinstated, a federal judge says.
In a ruling issued Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reiterated what he said in a previous order in the case in which he criticized the government for first delaying implementation of the lease for 29 years before finally canceling it.
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.
The Blackfeet are keeping up the pressure in the fight over drilling leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region . . .
While a decades-long legal struggle over energy exploration in the Badger-Two Medicine revolves around its sacred nature to the Blackfeet Indians, it wasn’t until this week that the tribe officially asked to join the fight.
Blackfeet tribal leaders joined several conservation groups in requesting intervener status in the case between Solenex LLC and the U.S. Department of the Interior before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C. Two months ago, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell accepted a recommendation from the U.S. Forest Service to cancel Solenex’s drilling leases on 6,200 acres of public land just south of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Solenex asked Leon to overrule the decision and reinstate the leases.
“Those representing traditional Blackfeet culture did not have a seat at the table 30 years ago when the federal government leased our sacred lands for a dollar an acre,” said John Murray of the Pikuni Traditionalist Association. “This intervention is important to ensure that those representing traditional Blackfeet culture have a seat at the table now as the court considers the validity of the government’s effort to correct that 30-year-old mistake.”
As expected, Solonex has challenged the cancellation of their oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine. The paperwork was filed last Friday . . .
A Louisiana company challenged the cancellation of an oil and gas lease in northwest Montana on Friday, after federal officials said drilling would disturb an area sacred to the Blackfoot tribes of the U.S. and Canada.
The 6,200-acre lease owned by Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge is in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest. It’s just outside Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Attorneys for the company want U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington, D.C., to reject the Interior Department’s March 17 cancellation of the lease.
The Obama administration has cancelled a disputed oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area near Glacier National Park.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced Thursday the Bureau of Land Management has cancelled the 6,200-acre lease in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The lease, currently held by Solonex LLC, was issued by the BLM in 1982 on land considered sacred to the Blackfeet tribes of the U.S. and Canada.
The cancellation is expected to be challenged in federal court by Solenex, a Louisiana company seeking to drill for oil and gas.
The BLM concluded the Solonex lease was improperly issued in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historical Preservation Act. The agency consulted with the U.S. Forest Service, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Blackfeet Tribe, leaseholder and others, according to federal officials.
The Hungry Horse News has a nice summary of the battle over drilling leases in the Badger-Two Medicine . . .
The battle over oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine will continue. The Department of Interior and Solonex, the company that owns the leases had asked U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon to suspend the case so the two parties could negotiate a settlement in the 30-plus year battle. But those talks have fallen apart.
Now Solonex, in a brief to the court on Jan. 19, claims that any attempt to cancel the leases by the DOI would be arbitrary and contrary to federal law. Solonex is represented by the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a nonprofit that often takes up private business and citizens issues in land use disputes in federal court.
The DOI in December said it tentatively planned on canceling the leases altogether, claiming the U.S. Forest Service never did a proper examination of the impacts on Blackfeet Tribe cultural resources when it sold the leases in 1981.