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Advisory Council Recommends Cancellation Of Badger-Two Medicine Drilling Lease

Solenex well site is the last remaining oil lease in Badger-Two-Medicine.
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
The Solenex well site in the Badger-Two Medicine

A federal advisory council that’s been reviewing a decades old proposal to explore for energy in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest issued its recommendation today.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s recommendation says:

"Revoke the suspended Permit to Drill, cancel the lease, and ensure that future mineral development does not occur."

It sent that advice to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

This recommendation comes after the federal Advisory Council visited Choteau earlier this month and listened to a crowd of both tribal and non-tribal members overwhelmingly opposed to drilling in the Badger-Two Medicine, land sacred to the Blackfeet people.

"This is what we wanted," says Blackfeet Historic Preservation Officer John Murray. "And not only what we wanted, but we expected them to do that, because it's moral…There is just no way around it."

The Advisory Council’s advice alone isn’t sufficient to stop drilling. The Interior Department has the final say in deciding if the leases should be canceled or how drilling can begin while minimizing the impacts to the land.

The Interior Department’s timeline is to issue that decision November 30.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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