One Down, One More to Go
One of the two remaining leases in the Badger-Two Medicine was permanently retired today
We received some great news regarding the Badger-Two Medicine today.
Moncrief Oil and Gas Master, LLC and The Wilderness Society reached an out-of-court settlement resulting in the permanent retirement of a federal oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine area.
The retirement of the Moncrief lease comes as a great relief and as a victory to our members across the U.S., who hold great respect for the Badger-Two Medicine's sacredness to the Blackfeet people and who revere this area for the abundance of grizzly bears, elk, westslope cutthroat trout, and other fish and wildlife that thrive here because it's so wild. We can't thank the Wyss Foundation enough for making this lease retirement possible.
Sacred to the Blackfeet people (Niitsitapi), the Badger-Two Medicine is an area bounded by the Blackfeet Reservation, Glacier National Park, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. It’s an area as wild as any on the Crown of the Continent and is the last unprotected wildland along the Rocky Mountain Front.
It’s also an area the Blackfeet have been using for thousands of year. As John Murray, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Blackfeet Tribe, says: the Badger-Two Medicine is “a cornerstone of our history and our culture.”
In 2016 and 2017, the Interior Department cancelled all remaining oil and gas leases in recognition that the government had violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and other bedrock environmental laws when it issued the leases in the 1980s. One the largest lease-holders in the Badger, Devon Energy, voluntarily relinquished its leases in 2016, stating “it was the right thing to do.”
Solenex LLC and Moncrief challenged the cancellation of their leases in a Washington, D.C. district court. In 2017, the court ruled in favor of both companies. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke afterwards vowed to appeal the decision of both cases.
Days before his confirmation hearing as Interior secretary, David Bernhardt pulled the department out of its appeal of the Moncrief decision (though not the Solenex decision), which makes today news so welcome.
We stand by our tribal partners when they say that they will see the last of the Badger-Two Medicine leases retired. We too are more determined than ever to establish permanent protection, to ensure that no industrial development ever comes to this one-of-a-kind place.
- Joe Offer, central Montana field director