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.
A Louisiana company has asked a federal judge to block government plans to cancel a long-stalled federal energy lease on land considered sacred to American Indians.
The Interior Department announced in November that it plans to cancel the 6,200-acre lease near Glacier National Park because it was improperly issued in 1982. It’s owned by Solenex LLC of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
In a Tuesday court filing, company attorney Steven Lechner said the government arbitrarily reversed course last year after previous determinations that the leases were valid.
After several weeks of closed-door discussions aimed at resolving a lawsuit over drilling leases in the Badger-Two medicine region, the Interior Department and Solonex, the Louisiana energy company that brought the lawsuit, notified the court yesterday afternoon that they intend to resume litigation.
This means the government will press ahead with their decision to cancel all energy leases in the Badger-Two Medicine and Solonex will fight the decision.
Expect some sort of fireworks within the next couple of weeks.
Here’s a non-surprise: After the Solonex lawsuit forced the federal government to take an official stance on the issue of energy leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region, attorneys on both sides want to move the discussion behind closed doors for a while . . .
The Interior Department and a Louisiana energy company are asking a federal judge to pause court proceedings in a dispute over a drilling lease near Glacier National Park.
Attorneys for the two sides said in a Wednesday court filing that they want more time to see if they can resolve the case outside of court.
They asked U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to put the case on hold until Jan. 8.