Posted on

HELENA, Mont. — The cultural leaders of the Blackfeet tribe are appealing a judge’s recent order to reinstate an oil and gas lease that was first issued four decades ago in an area adjacent to Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.

The appeal filed Tuesday in Washington challenges U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s Sept. 6 order to the Interior Department to reinstate the lease granted to Solenex LLC of Louisiana in 1982 and to issue the company a drilling permit.

Leon ruled then-Interior Secretary Sally Jewel did not have the authority to cancel the lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area in 2016. She had determined the lease was issued illegally.

Leon issued a similar order reinstating a different lease in the area in 2018 that was later overturned on appeal.

The Badger-Two Medicine is the site of the creation story of the Blackfoot tribes of southern Canada and the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. It is home to wildlife and a source of clean water and the tribes argue its cultural and traditional uses should be protected.

Solenex has never been able to drill on the 10-square-mile (25-square-kilometer) site due to bureaucratic delays within the U.S. departments of Interior and Agriculture. The company sued the federal government in 2013 to enforce the lease.

Efforts to block 47 drilling leases granted in the Badger-Two Medicine area have resulted in the cancellation of 46 of them, including some that were voluntarily surrendered and others bought out by the federal government.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *