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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Sep 21 2015

Too Sacred to Drill

Federal agency recommends cancelling all remaining oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine

Announcements, Featured

It’s not everyday that a government agency makes you leap with joy. Today that happened.

An independent federal agency that oversees preservation of historic places on federal lands, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) released its official comments regarding proposed oil and gas drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine, a designated Traditional Cultural District (TCD) under the National Historic Preservation Act

ACHP recommends that the only way to protect the traditional and cultural values of this spectacular wild landscape, held sacred by the Blackfeet people, is to get rid of all of the remaining leases and ensure no drilling ever happens there.

The agency’s comments are almost too good to be true and are a testament to the hundreds of comments you submitted or voiced to the ACHP on behalf of the Badger. Here are a few of the ACHP's comments:

If implemented, the Solenex exploratory well along with the reasonably foreseeable full field development would be so damaging to the TCD that the Blackfeet Tribe's ability to practice their religious and cultural traditions in this area as a living part of their community life and development would be lost. The cumulative effects of full field development, even with the mitigation measures proposed by Solenex, would result in serious and irreparable degradation of the historic values of the TCD that sustain the tribe. If necessary, the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Secretary of Agriculture, should seek authorizations from Congress to withdraw or cancel the Solenex lease.

And it gets even better.

The ACHP further recommends that the Secretary of the Interior, working with the Secretary of Agriculture, take the steps necessary to terminate the remaining leases in the TCD, in a manner consistent with addressing the Solenex lease.

The ACHP letter, addressed to the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior, refutes, point by point, the pathetic arguments offered by the Mountain States Legal Foundation attorney representing Solenex, who was the lone voice for development at the field hearing in Choteau on September 2

ACHP also affirms forcefully that which Blackfeet people for millennia have known – that the Badger-Two Medicine is a vital cultural, spiritual, ceremonial and traditional landscape that binds the past to the future for Blackfeet people.

We should all take a moment to celebrate, alongside our Blackfeet partners and those who have worked so diligently over decades to preserve the wild and sacred Badger. MWA thanks everyone who submitted comments to the ACHP or attended the meeting in Choteau.

But there is more work to be done.

While the Departments of Agriculture and Interior must consider the ACHP’s recommendation, they must make some bold decisions to free the Badger of the threat of industrialization once and for all.

Please take a moment now to donate and help us continue our fight for the Badger.

For more information and to find out how to get involved, please contact me at cperkins@wildmontana.org or 406-544-1093.

And if you haven’t added you name to the petition for lease cancellation, now is a great time to do so.

- Casey Perkins, MWA Rocky Mountain Front field director