The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Tuesday canceled the final two oil and natural gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area in northwest Montana on lands the Blackfeet Nation considers sacred.
Within the Lewis and Clark National Forest, Badger-Two Medicine is comprised of 130,000 acres bounded by Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and the Blackfeet reservation.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the cancellations, which were expected, underscore the federal agencies' focus on limiting future oil/gas development on public lands that represent "the right way and the right places" for energy development. "The cancellation of the final two leases in the rich cultural and natural Badger-Two Medicine area will ensure it is protected for future generations.”
Late in 2015, Jewell initially indicated that BLM would be canceling the leases, and last March the agency bowed to the Blackfeet concernsand canceled a proposed oil/natural gas lease sale in the Badger-Two Medicine area.
Last November, a milestone settlement was reached with the biggest leaseholder, Devon Energy Corp., to cancel 15 leases. Another lease was canceled that was held by Solenex LLC.
The two final leaseholders -- Moncrief Oil and JG Kluthe Family Trust -- are, like other leaseholders, to be fully reimbursed.
Many of the canceled leases were issued in the 1980s, and there has never been any development.The cancellations follows recommendations by the USFS, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, concerns from the Blackfeet Tribe and the general public, a BLM spokesperson said.
Jewell said that federal officials worked with the Blackfeet throughout the process "to rollback decades-old leases and reinforce the importance of developing resources in the right way and the right places."
The action Tuesday was hailed by conservation groups, including Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, Wilderness Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Earthjustice, and Montana Wilderness Association. "The last of the legally issued leases have now been removed," the groups noted.