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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Dec 10 2020

Oil and Gas Just Won’t Leave the Badger-Two Medicine Alone

Solenex files suit to reinstate its canceled lease

They just won’t quit.

Once again, despite losing repeated court decisions over the last seven years, Solenex LLC is attempting to reinstate its oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine.

Last week, with representation from Mountain States Legal Foundation (formerly led by William Perry Pendley), the Louisiana-based company filed a new complaint against the United States Forest Service and Department of the Interior. Among other things, the suit challenges a 2014 determination that oil and gas leasing in the Badger-Two Medicine would threaten the integrity of the Traditional Cultural District status granted to the Badger because of its historical and cultural importance to the Blackfeet Nation. 

Over the summer, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a District Court decision that had reinstated Solenex’s lease - the last remaining oil and gas lease in the Badger Two-Medicine. With this decision, the Badger was once again lease-free and not under immediate threat. 

However, six months after the appeals court’s decision upheld this final cancellation, Solenex is once again refusing to go quietly, years after other leaseholders have willingly given up their leases. The company is also attempting to expand on its original argument (that the Secretary of Interior improperly canceled the lease) and is now challenging the Forest Service’s assessment that the development of the lease would harm the Badger’s Tradition Cultural District.

Nestled between Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and the Blackfeet Reservation, the Badger is of great spiritual significance to the Blackfeet people. It’s also vital habitat and a migration corridor for animals like grizzly bears, wolverine, and lynx, as well as an important wintering area for elk and mule deer.

MWA is committed, as we have been since the leases were illegally issued in the 1980s, to seeing an end to the threat of oil and gas leasing in the Badger-Two Medicine. We’ll continue to fight for the wild future of this special place, and we’re not alone. The federal government has chosen to continue defending the lease cancellation and Earthjustice will continue to represent MWA and our partners (the Pikuni Traditionalist Association, the Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, and Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance) as interveners in the case.

If you have questions, please contact me. We’ll also be sure to keep you updated on any developments in this case and how you can contribute to the wild future of the Badger-Two Medicine.

 
Zach Angstead
Central Montana Field Director

Zach works with communities in central Montana to protect island ranges like the Little Belt and Big Snowy Mountains, prairie wildlands, and the Rocky Mountain Front. When he isn’t working you can find Zach hiking, fishing, camping with his family, and caving to explore Montana underground.
Email Zach