Helena, Montana – The final oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region has been terminated, according to a September 1 announcement from the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture. The Blackfeet Tribe places great cultural significance on this region.
The Badger-Two Medicine region, which is located next to Glacier National Park and spans over 130,000 acres, was formerly a part of the Blackfeet Reservation.
Early in the 1980s, oil and gas leases were first granted. At that time, a total of 47 leases for the region were released by the Bureau of Land Management.
The lack of an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) prior to issuing drilling permits, according to the Department of the Interior, resulted in years of litigation.
In the end, Congress removed the region from potential oil and gas leases in 2006 and provided financial incentives to businesses that voluntarily withdrew.
Sally Jewell, the Interior Secretary under the Obama administration, terminated the final two leases in 2014, remanding the case to court.
As part of a settlement, the previous lessee Moncrief Oil and Gas Master relinquished their lease in 2019, leaving Solenex, LLC as the sole lessee.
Last week, Solenex decided to end its lease.
In a statement on Facebook, Blackfeet Tribal Business Council said, “This agreement to retire the final lease brings to a close a long and painful chapter in the history of our People.”
The last lease should be canceled, according to statements made by U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines of Montana.
“Badger-Two Medicine is a part of what makes Montana the Last Best Place, and it’s importance to the Blackfeet Tribe along with its added value to our $7.1 billion outdoor economy makes it a place we shouldn’t drill or dig. After working alongside the Tribe for years to protect this breathtaking area, today’s settlement is great news for the people of Montana and Blackfeet Nation. This announcement is a reminder that we can get things done when we work hard and stick together in Montana,” U.S. Senator Jon Tester said.
“I’m glad to see a solution that all parties were able to agree on to ensure this land that holds such significant cultural and spiritual importance to the Blackfeet Nation is protected. Decades in the making, this agreement will help generations to come enjoy and appreciate Blackfeet Nation’s ancestral homelands, and I look forward to working on a solution to permanently protect these lands,” U.S. Senator Steve Daines said.
The Badger-Two Medicine region was split up into a Traditional Cultural District in 2002. In order to incorporate the territories of the now-cancelled leases, the government increased the district in 2014.