MTPR

Interior Defends Badger-Two Medicine Lease Cancellation

Oct 4, 2016

The federal government says a lawsuit challenging their authority to deny an oil and gas lease in the Badger- Two Medicine area next to Glacier National Park should not go to trial.

Map of Solenex lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Credit Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association

Lawyers for the Interior Department are standing by earlier claims that the federal agency had the legal power to cancel an oil and gas lease it granted decades ago in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Solenex LLC, the former leaseholder, has been fighting in court to drill on the land for the last three years. Last month, Solenex asked a federal judge to declare that Interior overstepped its authority in denying their lease.

Before the lease was canceled, Solenex claimed the Interior Department unreasonably delayed the Louisiana company from using its lease.

Last month, the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Petroleum Association also filed a motion supporting Solenex.

Interior says the lease was issued without proper environmental review, and thus was illegal.

The Blackfeet Tribe spent years campaigning against the lease, and supports Interior's recent decision to cancel it. The Badger-Two Medicine is considered sacred by the Tribe.